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Case Study

Kristina Halsall

Sunderland, UK

PGCE Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET)


COVID-19 may have caused her initial career plans to change, but Kristina Halsall realised her desire to teach never went away, which is how she ended up studying for her PGCE PCET at the University of Sunderland. Kristina now works for a charity based in Newcastle.

I was working in a call centre, but I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I decided to pursue a TEFL qualification and take the opportunity to teach English in China. Unfortunately, this coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and all of my plans changed. I knew I still wanted to teach English and more specifically, teach functional skills to adults and give people a second chance to gain a qualification, regardless of their background.

I was aware that the University of Sunderland had a fantastic reputation for its Education courses, including the Post-Compulsory sector, which is what I specialised in. One of the main reasons I chose to study at Sunderland was the financial aid that was available to me, particularly the bursary provided by the Government. Not having to worry about how I was going to pay my bills allowed me to concentrate on developing my teaching skills and best of all, it didn’t contribute to my student debt!

Given that my entire degree was completed during the pandemic, my favourite part of the course was logging onto Teams for lessons and getting to know all my classmates who soon became genuine friends. My tutor made the online classes really engaging and fun, so I never felt like I was stuck staring at a screen.

If you were thinking about coming to study here, my advice would be to check out both campuses, see the brilliant facilities on offer, speak to the different teams and get to know the surrounding area – not just Sunderland city, but also Seaburn, Roker and Newcastle. I’d definitely recommend exploring what funding is available too, as it can change your whole experience.

After I graduated, I worked in a prison down south for six months which I really enjoyed, but after realising how much I missed my family, I moved back up north. I now work for a Newcastle-based charity called Building Futures East, which allows me to get involved with helping the community in several ways, from food banks to offering free education and helping with debt management.

Although it was a huge learning curve, I benefitted so much from studying at the University of Sunderland. The way my course was structured allowed me to build my confidence and shaped who I am as a teacher today. Everything I’ve learnt has been completely worth it!"

Published 18 March 2022

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