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Case Study

Courtney Newburn

Sunderland, UK

PGCE Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET)


Realising that she was still undecided about her career path after completing an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Psychology, Courtney Newburn decided to pursue teaching within further education. She is about to graduate from our PGCE PCET course and has already secured a permanent, full-time job as a teaching lecturer in a college.

I had previously studied for both a BSc and MSc in Psychology at a different university, but when I completed my masters, I felt quite overwhelmed as I still couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do next. During the global pandemic, I decided that I wanted to get back into studying and find my passion for learning again. I’d always considered teaching, but I wasn’t sure which area I’d like to specialise in. After doing some research, I decided I’d like to teach within the further education sector and I applied for the PGCE PCET course at the University of Sunderland, which really jumped out at me. Being my hometown, staying local to Sunderland for my studying really appealed to me too.

My favourite part of the PCET course has changed as it’s progressed. To start with, I really enjoyed the centre-based sessions held at the University, which helped me learn the theory behind teaching and how to develop my own pedagogy. Now, I would say my favourite element of the course is my placement, which I’m completing at Sunderland College.

I’m due to graduate soon and since starting the course, my career has already progressed considerably. I’ve managed to secure a permanent, full-time job based within a further education college as a teaching lecturer in Health and Social Care. There were times when I never thought I’d get here, as in the beginning I often doubted myself and my own abilities, even considering withdrawing at one point. However, thanks to the support of my tutor and others at the University, I continued with my studies, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Now I can pursue the career I’ve always wanted and continue to grow and enhance my professional development along the way. Even more importantly, I’m now confident of my own capabilities and know that I can achieve my goals as long as I remain motivated.

The best advice I could give to prospective students thinking about studying for the PGCE PCET would be to just go for it. While I was on the fence at first and couldn’t fully envision myself as a teacher, it’s important to remember that these feelings are normal and most students enrolling on this course haven’t taught before either. It’s worth noting that the whole point of the course is to teach you the required theory and practical skills needed to go on to teach yourself, so you’ll be fully prepared when you graduate. I’m so glad I took the leap, rather than looking back in a few years and thinking "what if?"

I would describe my experience of studying at the University of Sunderland as a roller coaster ride. I was nervous and excited at the beginning and there were plenty of ups and downs along the way, however, my journey on the PCET course has gone from strength to strength. I’ve ended up finding a new passion for a subject I’d never have considered initially, changing from Psychology to a specialism in Health and Social Care. Better still, I’ve already landed myself a teaching job, and I’m forever thankful for all the support I received from my course tutor at the University and my mentor at Sunderland College which has undoubtedly contributed to my success.”

Published 5 August 2022

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