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Case Study

Olivia Cummings

Durham, UK

BA (Hons) Performing Arts

Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) PGCE


After completing her undergraduate degree in Performing Arts, Olivia Cummings knew she wanted to teach and, after speaking with Sunderland Futures, decided going into Further Education was the route for her. She is currently teaching in a sixth form college, working as a personal development coach.

After studying my undergraduate degree I knew I wanted to teach but needed support to get started – Sunderland Futures were fantastic at providing careers advice and helped me apply for the PCET course. I didn’t even know you could train in further education which really appealed to me and I chose to study the English pathway so I could teach both English and drama which would improve my employment prospects.

I initially chose to study at Sunderland after coming for an open day; just by looking around I knew I wanted to come here and I didn’t get that feeling in the other places I looked at. I really liked the atmosphere and the content of the course looked good to me.

There were many things I enjoyed about the PCET course: the staff support, course content (the fact that I could do the English pathway) and the range of placements – I ended up completing my placement in a prison, which I found really interesting. The University is very supportive; I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was there which was a massive game-changer for me. The University supported me with 1-2-1 sessions and provided me with specialist equipment such as a laptop, printer and software which supported me with my studies. This helped me to achieve a first class honours degree and pass the PCET course. I would definitely recommend the University to other students; I even recommend it to my own students who I teach now. My advice would be to attend an open day as this can really help you to get a feel for the place, and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can as the staff are really helpful. Even if you don’t think university is for you, coming to an open day can change your mind – like it did mine!
I am now teaching in a Sixth Form College in the North East, working as a personal development coach. I have been able to utilise a wide range of skills from both the course I studied and I was even able to gain employment before I graduated!

I never believed university was for me or that I could have achieved as much as I have. Now I work to inspire others to believe they can achieve beyond their expectations.”

Published 3 April 2020

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