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Case Study

Rob Murphy



Originally from the UK, Rob Murphy has been living in Thailand for almost six years, currently working as a primary and drama teacher in an international school. He enrolled onto our PGCE iQTS course to improve his knowledge and skills to be the best teacher he can be. He credits the course to giving him a deeper level of understanding into his teaching methods, as well as the tools to lead and constantly improve as a practitioner whilst sharing a passion for his subject.

I trained and worked as an actor for many years, but when I moved to Thailand almost six years ago, I began working as a teacher – something my family has deep roots in. I have always enjoyed being part of a learning environment, whether that be drama workshops or working in a school. Two years ago, I joined an international school as a primary and drama teacher. Through my years of acting, I gained knowledge and a passion to teach, but there were still many things I didn’t understand. As a person, I struggle to take a back seat, and I started leading school councils and events, as I wanted to make a change. However, to obtain a real understanding of how to improve the school life for students, I wanted to further my knowledge and use my passion to make sure I could be the best teacher I could be.

It’s a requirement to complete Further Education as part of my teaching license in Thailand, but for me, studying for the PGCE iQTS qualification wasn’t just about ticking a box – it was about furthering my teaching and challenging myself to grow. I have always loved being part of a nurturing environment and I couldn’t think of a better university than Sunderland. The second I met my course leaders during my interview, I knew that not only did they have the knowledge to help me grow, but also a genuine passion for improving and celebrating teaching. From this moment, I didn’t even respond to any other offers or interviews as I knew this was the place for me.

I’m only midway through the iQTS course, but so far, I’ve loved gaining a deeper understanding into why I was doing things the way I did previously. For example, as a drama teacher I like to work as a facilitator rather than as a teacher, working alongside my students to explore and grow as an ensemble. I always knew the subject of drama didn’t work as a lesson spent sat in front of a board, and now I better understand the learning behaviours, I can see that this is social constructivism. I can explain why I teach in this way and have gained insight into why this works, giving me the ability to reflect on a much deeper level. Before studying at Sunderland, students enjoyed my lessons and were learning, but by furthering my knowledge, it feels like the blindfold has been removed and I can see my teaching style for the first time.

When I complete my PGCE, I could teach anywhere – in Thailand, I could more than double my wage, but this isn’t my aim. Honestly, my aim is to be the best possible teacher, to share my passion for my subject and help my students develop, whatever their needs. Feeling confident in my teaching and being happy and excited about my work is better than any pay rise. I’ve worked in schools and education systems for almost six years – government schools, international schools, English camps – you name it! This course has reignited my desire to improve, and even outside of lessons, think about how I can be more inclusive, supportive, and communicative. It’s given me the tools to not just do my job well, but to lead and improve constantly.

If anybody was thinking about studying for the iQTS course at Sunderland, my advice would be to DO IT. Is there anywhere else full of like-minded, incredible individuals being led by passionate staff who want to see you grow? I honestly doubt it! Although the course is a lot of work, every single session is taught by an academic who wants to share their story and encourage questions, speaking passionately from start to finish. I currently spend about 10 hours a day at school – long hot days in the Thai sunshine – yet when we have an evening off, I would honestly rather catch up on lectures and with the other students on my course. I’m not the most intellectual with regards to Higher Education, but since joining the course, my hunger for learning and developing has truly awakened.

If you’re unsure whether this degree is for you, ask yourself if you want to be a better teacher. If the answer is yes, then there’s no better place in the world than Sunderland. It’s a university of the people, for the people. It offers a friendly, down to earth way of learning, pushing itself to be better by evolving, understanding, and improving. If the rest of the courses are like mine, it’s about understanding who you are, what you believe in, and carrying that with you. The University of Sunderland isn’t creating cogs in a machine – they don’t recreate, they redefine.”

Published 9 November 2022

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