Here is the next installment in our "A Week In The Life Of" series!
Hello! What is your name and where are you from?
Hello, my name is Ollie and I'm from Leeds.
Where do you work and what is your job?
I am a Primary School Teacher.
Please can you tell us a little more about where you work and the industry it is in?
I work in a small primary school just on the outskirts of Leeds. My school is based in a village and it is a huge part of the community there. We pride ourselves on our promotion of physical activity and health as well as aiming to provide a rich and broad curriculum so that every child can find what they love, hopefully giving them the best start to their journey in education and life.
What is a typical day like in your job?
Every day is completely new, and as class teachers, it is up to us to make each day as exciting as possible for the children but also for ourselves. This is helped by the number of subjects that you have to teach, but even those subjects that you have to teach every day you can still have the scope to make them as exciting and engaging as possible.
9-3 it truly is the best job you can do and it’s a pleasure to get that time to spend with the children. Around the edges, it can be extremely high pressure and demanding due to the ever increasing stress being put on academic achievement and progress, but that is simply the nature of education. As long as the work is put in before and after the school day so that the lessons you teach and the ideas that you have can be put into practice, the time with the children looks after itself.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love that I have been able to pursue my interests at the same time as working to the core principles of primary education. My passion lies in health promotion and physical activity in children, this is what I tailored my university options towards before I had even considered teaching. As a teacher now I am able to push my interests and passions with my class and also affect the school as a whole. I managed to find a school whose headteacher shared my passion, and our school ethos is now rooted in physical activity and play. Whether your passion is the same as mine or in geography, reading, the arts or technology, there will always be opportunities to stamp your identity on your class or school and help other children find the same passions as you.
Did you go to college or university? If so, what did you study and where?
I went to Leeds Beckett to study Physical Education. I then went on to do my PGCE there in Primary Education with PE specialism.
Why did you choose to study this subject/s?
PE was always "my thing" at school, I grew up sporty and loved all things to do with PE so I thought I could keep my options open to start with and then specialise once I knew what path I wanted to take. It was a very varied course with lots of opportunities to experience a range of modules. For example, there were opportunities to learn about strength & conditioning, psychology, teaching, education philosophy, sport science, obesity, and many more.
Does your degree relate to your job? If so, how?
My PE degree has helped to shape my identity as a teacher. I’m the PE lead at my school so my course has definitely helped PE to become my ‘specialism’. A lot of what I do at the moment is about more than just in the classroom too, so having had the experience from my course is more than just teaching, as well as my dissertation focusing on physical activity in primary schools, it’s put me in a good position to put some focus into what I love.
Did you complete any other post-16 qualifications?
I took A-Levels in PE, Biology and Graphic Design.
How has the COVID-19 lockdown affected your job?
Obviously the majority of children had a lot of time away from school. We did what we could to keep them engaged during lockdown but home-learning can never be the same as the interaction the children get in school. Many got the academic support that they needed but socially it was a struggle. The first half term back in school has been massively focused on identifying gaps in knowledge and trying to address these as quickly as possible, but ultimately the spread in the attainment gap has increased. The children have loved being back despite it being full on and completely different to normal, which I’d a massive positive to us.
Please can you tell us about your "Career Journey"?
It was only at the end of my second year of university that I decided I wanted to teach, so I had to cram quite a lot of work experience in so I could get a place on a PGCE. At that point I had decided on two options, teaching or going into the forces. One of my teaching modules on my PE course involved teaching in a primary school, and that was the point I knew which route I would take.
What would be your one piece of advice for someone who is looking into the job sector you work in?
If you’re thinking of teaching, make sure that you get plenty of experience helping out in schools so that you know it’s for you. And when you are on work experience, stay later than the children and get a taste of the tougher side of teaching. I can honestly say that it is an incredible career, don’t be put off by teachers acting stressed! It just means they care and they’re putting in 100%. If you think teaching is for you, don’t feel like you have to go straight into a primary education undergraduate course. Yes, you will get lots of teaching experience, but nothing can fully prepare you for having your own class and being on your own. A PGCE (Post Grad Teacher Training) is quite intense and you have to juggle a lot of things, but you still get all the experience you need and you’ll be more than ready to be a teacher. This also means that you can have slightly less pressure whilst studying something else that you love or are interested in for 3 years prior to teacher training. Which, in my experience, can really strengthen your position as a teacher going forward.