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Case Study

Emily Harriman

Easington, UK

PGCE Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET)

BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching


Emily Harriman decided to pursue her dream to become a PE teacher by studying for both her undergraduate degree and PGCE at the University of Sunderland. She’s now using the valuable knowledge and skills she gained during her courses in her teaching role at East Durham College.

For as long as I can remember, I’d always wanted to become a PE teacher, and I believed that university would be the best path to take to achieve my dream career. While studying for my A Levels, I explored undergraduate courses that might be of interest to me, which led me to apply for the BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching at Sunderland. I graduated with a First Class Honours degree and made the decision instantly to enrol onto the PGCE PCET course, as I’d already had such a positive experience at the University.

I chose to study at Sunderland for both of my degrees as I’d heard a lot of good things from current students and graduates, as well as reading a number of case studies relating to my course. Hearing these success stories inspired me to follow in their footsteps. I’m local to the North East and live just a short drive away from Sunderland too, which is a bonus.

It’s so hard to choose just one of my favourite parts of the PGCE PCET course, but sourcing my own placement at East Durham College and having the opportunity to build on my teaching craft was fantastic. The placement allowed me to discover my strengths and weaknesses as an individual, as well as a teacher, and has definitely made me the kind of teacher I am today. I was even lucky enough to gain an hourly paid teaching contract just a few months into my placement.

Now I’ve graduated, I’m still employed at East Durham College where my hours have since doubled, teaching both Sport (my specialist subject) and Health and Social Care. My skills are constantly growing – I’ve recently gained a Level 3 Teaching and Assessing Qualification which enables me to assess the practice of others. I hope to advance my development even further and take on more responsibility by becoming a course leader. The great thing about teaching is that it’s a lifelong career and the opportunities are endless.

Everything I learnt on the PGCE PCET has been useful to me throughout my teaching journey, but one element that I found particularly beneficial was learning about behaviour management and the strategies that can be implemented into the classroom. This really helped me when teaching on the 14-16 provision at the college, which was challenging as it consisted of pupils with extreme behavioural issues. Having this knowledge from my course enabled me to create a routine for the learners and get to know them on a more individual level, which in turn allowed them to become more comfortable in my care.

The advice I would give to any students thinking of studying at Sunderland would be, don’t hesitate and click the ‘Apply’ button now! If you’re doubting yourself and your abilities, remember that you can do whatever you set your mind to, if you’re willing to put 110% into your course. Take advantage of the open days and events as it really gives you a feel for what’s ahead in your journey. You’ll have the chance to meet new people from your course and form relationships with potential life-long peers.

The way the PGCE PCET course was structured and the challenges it presented really increased my determination and commitment and shaped me into the teacher I am today. My experience of studying at the University of Sunderland has provided me with the lifelong skills I need to overcome any challenges thrown my way. It’s been stimulating and extremely rewarding, and I’m now even considering studying for a masters degree in the near future to expand on my skillset even further. It's been an experience I want to remember and take with me throughout my career.”

Published 22 April 2022

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