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Case Study

Laura Tokell

Sunderland, UK

MA Education

BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS


Having known since she was young that she wanted to teach, Laura Tokell always had ambitions of eventually going to university. She enjoyed her experience of the BA (Hons) Primary Education so much that she had no hesitation in applying for her masters here. Laura now plans to teach at primary level, now feeling prepared after gaining experience during her placements.

From the outset of considering universities for my undergraduate degree, Sunderland stood out from the crowd, as they liaised with local colleges to ensure you're prepared for the interview process and know what your desired course entails. This, as well as excellent reviews on both the support and teaching provided by Sunderland, swayed me towards the University.

As I progressed through the BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS, I experienced lots of challenges, but was supported every step of the way by Disability Services, tutors and many other services within the University. I enjoyed my experience so much that I had no hesitation in applying for my masters course here.

My main reason for choosing Sunderland for the MA Education was the relationships I had built with tutors and staff. To me, in education, there is nothing more important than building a trusting relationship with your students so that they have confidence in your ability to teach and guide them, as well as faith in you when it comes to pastoral issues. I always felt I could approach any tutor for help and had faith that they would provide support or pass me onto the person or service who could assist me best if they weren't able to. 

Having known since I was young that I wanted to teach, I always had ambitions of eventually going to university. However, I wasn't always sure of the type of teaching I would like to do, which is why I chose to go into work first.  I worked in various different positions in retail as a Customer Service Holiday Representative. All of this experience, which was heavily based around working with families, made me realise that I love to work with children and would like to teach at primary school level.

I started teaching unemployed adults vocational studies, functional skills and employability skills. This built my confidence in my ability to teach, but also cemented my desire to teach young children. I knew from seeing the struggles my adult learners experienced, that I wanted to give people the right start in education from the very beginning.

There were several great aspects to my undergraduate course. The tutors were extremely skilled and knowledgeable, but very down to earth and on a level with their students. During the course, we were split into groups and given a mix of theoretical teaching, to help us understand why certain methods and pedagogies are used in the classroom, as well as being shown and taking part in practical lessons we could teach the children. This was all done with reference to theory and the national curriculum. Placements, which were built up gradually over the years, gave us a chance to progress, and were structured in a way which made you feel like you were being challenged as a student teacher, but not thrown in at the deep end. 

On the MA Education course, the tutors are superb with regards to relevant course knowledge and skills, but unlike some other universities, they don't enforce total independence, meaning you feel able to approach them whenever you need guidance. I was afraid there wouldn't be enough practical aspects to this course, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The sessions are organised in a way that bring together many learning styles, so that every student is afforded the best opportunity to understand how the content being taught related practically to assignments and ultimately to roles in educational employment.

Take every opportunity to be supported. Even if you feel you don’t need it, university is very different from other levels of study and it does take time to get used to it. Make use of the societies and services too. This is a time in your life when you will be presented with more opportunities to try new things than any other time.

I plan to teach at primary level once I have finished my masters degree. I feel the teaching experience I have gained during my placements, the outstanding marks I earned and the grade I achieved have prepared me well for this."

Published 14 June 2019

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