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Case Study

Harriet Behan

Sunderland, UK


BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS

Harriet Behan decided to study for her undergraduate degree in Primary Education at the University of Sunderland after feeling welcomed and supported at an Open Day. She is now working towards a postgraduate qualification in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and hopes to complete an ECT Programme to become an Early Years Leader when she graduates.

Before coming to university, I was slightly unsure of what career path I wanted to take. I was interested in being either a nurse or a teacher, but ultimately decided I wanted to help the youngest generation to develop and grow, and so chose to study to be a teacher. I decided to do this at Sunderland as, when I came to an Open Day, I was able to see the incredible resources on offer and I was able to talk to current students and staff who were all extremely helpful and supportive, answering all my queries about the degree. They made me feel very welcome. I was worried about being a mature student and that I wouldn’t fit in, but the University has a dynamic range of students and I’ve found the community to be nothing but supportive and welcoming.

The best aspect of the BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS course was the staff and my fellow students. The staff ensure everybody is able to have the knowledge and understanding, as well as practical experience, before undertaking placements. They make the lectures and seminars exciting and interesting too. For example, in one class, we all had to conduct our own science experiment, which helped us to gain a better understanding of how we could teach that lesson to the children.

I have now furthered my education by continuing at the University of Sunderland to complete my MA SEND. I am thoroughly enjoying the course so far and have completed two of my modules. Critical Thinking has been my favourite, as this allowed me to reflect on my own pedagogies. I’m now really enjoying completing my thesis, where I’m focusing on outdoor learning and how this can benefit children with ASD, which is a particular interest of mine. Two optional modules I’m completing are Supporting Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs and Barriers to Learning. These interlink so well and have given me insight into how I can help support children holistically with SEMH, but also other SEND, as I am able to understand how these barriers could affect them.

I would highly recommend the University of Sunderland to other students, as I have felt right at home. I have also gained a lot of confidence throughout my time here, which has enabled me to join the Student Ambassador scheme, become a Student Representative for my course, join the Students' Union Council and be an NUS Delegate. I have been able to help a lot of students to voice their opinions and have made friends for life. If I could give any advice to students looking to study at the University, it would be to come to an Open Day and experience the community for yourself, talk to staff and students, and you will realise how welcoming everybody is and how much they want to support you.

My future career aims are to begin my ECT Programme once I have completed my master's. I hope to eventually become an Early Years Leader, as I will be able to demonstrate my leadership and team-building skills, as well as form a creative and engaging curriculum for the children.

My experience at Sunderland has been one of the most incredible times of my life. I have made lifelong friends and have been part of a huge welcoming community, whilst gaining a degree to achieve my dream job. I would not change my experience for the world!”

Published 11 May 2022

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