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Case Study

Kendel Gilbert

Chester-le-Street, UK

MA Education

PGCE Primary Education with QTS

Kendel Gilbert knew she wanted to be a teacher and decided to return to university to achieve the career she’d always dreamed of having. After completing her PGCE in Primary Education, she enrolled on the MA Education, where the deeper levels of knowledge she’s acquiring has given her more confidence. Having secured a teaching role at one of her placement schools, she credits the fantastic support she received from the University’s academic staff in helping her get there.

Before returning to university, I was a Water Babies swimming teacher for 12 years. I’d always wanted to be a teacher but thought the opportunity had passed me by after not achieving my desired qualification when I finished sixth form, and I regretted not applying myself fully at university. So as a single parent of three children and turning 40, it was a now or never moment.

I was put in touch with the University of Sunderland through School Direct ITT (Initial Teacher Training), and after a chat with the team, I submitted my application. Coming to look around the campus and having the chance to speak to the academic staff, I knew that it was the place I wanted to be. The support offered by the We Care team was another aspect that really sold the university to me. From being there as a means of socialising, to providing amazing support, they enhance the journey even further.

I completed the PGCE Primary Education with QTS, and when I didn’t secure a job for September, my thirst for more knowledge and a desire to keep learning led me to enrol on the MA Education, a course which is opening my mind to even more ways of thinking. It was only natural after the amazing support I received during my PGCE that Sunderland would be where I studied for my master’s degree. The alumni discount for continuing my studies was also a bonus!

My favourite part of the PGCE was the experience I gained in the classroom, with support from my mentors and personal academic tutor, but with the MA, I love the way I’m learning how to think more deeply. The knowledge I’ve gained has made me so much more confident and the extensive reading means I’m learning to appreciate other viewpoints, understanding how conclusions can be reached. I’m also the course rep for the MA Education, which is giving me additional insight into how the course is run – it’s brilliant being able to have your say.

Working as a supply teacher gave me the opportunity to see how different schools operate, then in January, I was offered a role at one of my placement schools where I’m now teaching within a new enhanced learning provision. This wasn’t my initial plan when I started studying for my master’s degree, but the guidance from my tutors has been second to none, and they’re very much a part of my journey and support network. Both courses I studied here at Sunderland were designed to lead me to the point I’m at now and completing the master’s is taking that to the next level. Studying mentoring, coaching, and leadership, it’s my hope that I’ll successfully take the enhanced learning provision to a point where it can be modelled to other schools, helping to support future students of the universities’ education courses.

To sum up my university experience at Sunderland, it’s been life changing. The Education team are amazing – there’s no doubt that they care, and everything is designed with you as the student in mind. Sunderland holds an amazing reputation across schools as producing some of the best teachers, and a lot of that comes from the guidance of the academic team. I wouldn’t be in the role I’m in today without the University.”

Published 24 January 2024

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