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Trainee Blogs 2016-17

Lauren Livesey is 22 years old. After completing a BA Hons and working as a Teaching Assistant in Bolton, she made the move to Teacher Training and can now be found working hard with #teampresto!







Before starting my year as a trainee teacher I had heard all of the generic statements of shock as to why I would want to become a primary school teacher but none of these statements discouraged me, I knew what I wanted to be and I knew the journey would be more than worth it. However, one statement did capture my attention, ‘it won’t be easy, but it will go fast, enjoy and embrace every moment’, and this statement is the one I promised myself to keep in mind along the way.

My first teaching block begins tomorrow and, as anticipated, getting here wasn’t easy. Although having completed my degree alongside being a full time TA for the past year, the challenge doesn’t compare. Many journeys are referred to as emotional rollercoasters, and that of a trainee teacher can be described in no better way. There’s been times when I have felt confident and had a ‘I’ve got this’ attitude, times when I was drained and all I could think about was food and sleep, times where I have been inspired and instilled with masses of knowledge and times when I have just wanted to give up. However, in those times when I have wanted to give up I have stopped to remember the moments that make it all worthwhile, the little voices shouting you from down the corridor because you haven’t been in for a couple of days and they have missed you, the looks of amazement on their faces when you teach them something new and interesting. In just the first few weeks, I have already come so far and feel pride and satisfaction in the knowledge that I have made a strong start on my journey to reaching my dream career and that every challenge I have faced, and will face, is all part of the learning curve.

Within our training sessions at Prestolee, we have discussed the impact of the choices a teacher makes and how they should reflect upon them; everything that we do is a reflection of a choice that we have made: it is OK to make mistakes as long as we reflect on them and make a different choice next time. Mike Tonge shared a quote which inspired me, ‘success is not final, failure is not fatal, but it is having the courage to continue that counts’ (Winston Churchill). Although I have acknowledged that obstacles on this journey will add difficulty, the journey is my own and I constantly remind myself to, embrace it, enjoy it and reflect on my own choices to continue improving, developing and becoming successful.


Clare Coates is 40 years old, and after many years in senior roles within the Education sector she finally embarked on her teacher training journey with #teampresto

I will let you into a little secret… Yesterday was my 40th birthday, and here I am about to commence my second school placement, and it is exhilarating! 

How did I end up here?  Over the years, I have held many enjoyable senior job roles, but always there was the niggling feeling that I could do more, stretch myself further.  So, at the tender age of 39 years old, I applied for a place on the PGCE with QTS course with Prestolee.  

The choice to train through the school-led route was an easy one to make. I wanted to feel immersed in the world of teaching from day one. I attended a teaching event at Prestolee and knew it was the right place for me.  At Prestolee, you can be learning about subjects such as phonics in the morning, and then observe it being taught to pupils in the classroom in the afternoon – a much more valuable experience than being stuck behind a desk in a university, discussing only theory!

My previous experiences have benefited me greatly so far.  I have a good understanding of the Code of Practice and Special Educational Needs in general from my time as a council Education Officer.  I have a good grasp on the performance management / data side of teaching, from my time as a Data Manager for a local secondary school and as a former Project Manager, my organisation and planning skills are used on a daily basis!

I have one PGCE assignment under my belt and start my second school placement today.  Of course, I am nervous, but I am not worried.  Prestolee are incredibly supportive and I feel well prepared for what lies ahead…


Trainee Blogs 2015-16




Joe Dempsey is 38 years old, and, after completing an English Literature degree with the OU, has started Teacher Training via School Direct at Prestolee. Though teaching has been his goal for some time, his recent career has been in the field of music (predominantly Music Tech). Despite a place in the ‘hit parade’ evading him, he has fond memories of the brief period in the ‘noughties’, when DJs from New York to Tokyo were playing his record. Well, some were…

  Roy Edwards is 40 years old and completed a business degree 19 years ago. Since then he has worked at a senior level in a Tobacco company as a marketing manager. Whilst he always wanted to be a teacher, he never managed to make the life changing step until he realised that being fulfilled in what you do is the most important thing to have in your career. He has travelled the world, trekked to the base camp of Mount Everest, thrown himself out of several planes (with a parachute) and at weekends likes to punish himself with 10K extreme running. He loves a challenge and sees teaching as the next one. 



Episode 1 – ‘Bring It’ - by Joe Dempsey

I know the above phrase (quite possibly of American origin) works as a sort of verbal throwing-down-of-the-gauntlet. With regard to the path towards QTS status, and a PGCE, this is most definitely relevant. Enthusiasm and passion is essential, and at the beginning of the course, the sheer scale of the journey ahead can be daunting. Passion is the fuel that, I suspect, will see you through to its completion. However, there is another interpretation of ‘bringing it’ that has become very apparent to me since I began working in schools 18 months ago, and then began training at Prestolee ITT…

The old phrase, ‘it’s not about what you take from something, but what you bring’ has never been more appropriate for work in a school, and this is even more apparent in the school environment. It’s really surprising just how much value skills that were picked up in former careers or study can have. I had a previous career blogging, and have found myself using this skill on a number of occasions in school, (now including here…!) When we began the course, and members of the cohort introduced themselves, I was taken aback by the range of backgrounds that students came from (from personal trainers, to events managers, to TAs, to… well, you name it). So many times I thought, ‘Wow, what a great skill to have going into this process!’ Experience has shown me that this is the beauty of teaching, however; just about every job or experience has the potential to add to what a school can offer, and enrich a child’s experience.

Of course, this builds on the structure of knowledge and experience we are now building. Frighteningly, we’re here in week 5 as I write. Since we began, we’ve gained huge amounts of information and knowledge about how to teach Writing, Reading, Phonics, Maths, and PE, along with new skills and understanding relating to the planning process and behaviour. In contrast to the above, no matter how much experience you bring, there is always something new that completely refreshes your perspective. During this initial period, we spend two days per week in our placement school, and have 3 days of ‘taught’ sessions. The great strength of this is that the taught sessions encourage you to see new things in the observed sessions at the placement (regardless of previous school experience). There’s something a little bit beautiful about the ‘Ying-Yang’ balance, between everything you bring and everything you gain. Ahhh….

This will all be invaluable, I hope (!), when we began our assessed placement in a few weeks time. Fingers crossed…

In the meantime, ‘Bring it!’

And so it begins – by Roy Edwards

Before leaving my job I knew choosing to become a trainee teacher was a risky step to take.  I was 40 years old (nearly) and I was in a secure job that I loved, earning more than twice an NQT salary, working thirty hours a week and travelling the world.  Although it was fun it didn’t really fulfil me and I am a big believer in the fact that you should be fulfilled in whatever career path you choose wherever and whenever you can.  So I took the decision to change my career.

For 13 years, often alongside my main job, I had worked in professional football coaching for children of primary school age.  This often meant in school and after school coaching along with professional academy work at Leeds United FC.  This enabled me to gain a broad knowledge of safeguarding, behaviour management and the core competencies required for lesson management.  Along with this, in my old career I was responsible for the training and development of 200 staff which gave me the opportunity to present on a regular basis as well as plan, develop, deliver and reflect on training. All of these skills I thought would transfer to teaching.

The experiences I had from coaching and my previous position merely fanned the flames, and once I realised this was the case, there was simply no other choice but to retrain as a teacher.

I chose the school-led route as I had been away from academic education for a significant number of years, (which filled me with dread), and I have a preference for immersing myself in what I do as it helps me learn.  Whilst I still have to do the academic side to gain my PGCE I know that much of the learning is in school.

Before leaving work to become a trainee teacher I lost track of the number of people who said;

“What do you want to become a teacher for?” and “You must be mad!”

To which I only ever had one reply… Why wouldn’t I?  After all, how many careers are there in the world where every working day you have opportunity to change someone’s life forever?  Oh and I am a little mad!

Where has the time gone??? - by Roy Edwards

Wow! Where has the time gone? It’s nearly half term and it seems like only yesterday I started. Who would have thought that working so hard would be so much fun!

Maybe like other people when I started the course, I was apprehensive and a little nervous about what was to come. Being the positive person I am and knowing why I wanted to be a teacher, I cockily thought “How hard can it be?”  Well it’s nearly half term and I have found the answer; very hard! 

Everyday truly is a learning day and challenges you to think differently, act differently and look at new ways of doing things. It could be how to inspire a challenging child, a lecture about a model of learning, how to tackle bullying or  how to engage a class full of children all looking at you for some sort of divine intervention. Whatever it is, the level of learning is intense to say the least but I guess that is the life of an educator and it’s the life I want. 

While the intensity is high, the level of support goes above and beyond the level of work. Prestolee tutors are only a phone call away for any advice and give constant updates on where you should be for the next module of learning or guidance on any aspect of school life. There are plenty of opportunities to observe outstanding teachers and gather inspiration from the environments that the children are taught in or indeed the children themselves. Along with this the current cohort have an attitude of “We are all in this together!” which means we share everything and anything that is relevant through a Facebook group, via email or face to face.  The group possess what I believe to be one of the finest qualities required to be a teacher…a sense of humour!  Yes we have few tears (no names mentioned) but the supportive nature, humour and sharing culture means that everything seems possible. 

The weeks are flying by and it seem strange that a sixth of the year has gone already I have learned so much and have loved every minute of it.  Am I still apprehensive? Yes! The thought of standing up in front of a class while someone observes me fills me with dread but I know that it will be for a positive reason.  After all, we can’t learn anything if we don’t make mistakes once in a while.

The beginning has ended‼ by Roy Edwards

Wow! Put quite simply, this is the most suitable adjective I can use to describe the beginning placement.  It is certainly meant to test you and make you stronger.  In fact, it is almost like I am a year older! Oh wait, I am as I was 41 in December.

It seems like an eternity ago that I started on this journey and was fortunate enough to get a place on the course.  It is hard to believe that three months has gone by but I can feel that I have developed, feel that I have learned and I feel like I am slowly becoming a teacher. 

The support that you receive is first class, and when you are struggling or need inspiration there is always somewhere or someone to turn to.  You are given time to develop, time to plan and time to reflect on how far you have come. The reflection time gives you a chance to look at how far you have come and think ‘I can do this’ and is quite simply invaluable.  After all, it’s often too easy to overlook your success for the things you can’t do (yet!)  Also, the chance to reflect on the progress of the children you teach, how far they have come, how you can challenge them more and how you can continue to inspire them further is imperative in your development. With this built into your time in school it allows you to both develop as a practitioner but also develop as a person.

On the first day of school the placement school might as well have been another planet with teachers speaking a language I didn’t understand, groups of people who huddle in corners discussing things that are completely alien and children who look at you wary of who you are and what you want. Now, it’s like home.  Somewhere where I go every day, where everyone knows me and smile with pleasure.  A place where, I sort out squabbles (between children), where everyone respects each other and where children look to you for guidance and inspiration.

I can’t say it has been easy but I can say that every minute has been enjoyable, exhilarating and entertaining.  On the days when you think “What have I done!?  This is not for me!”  You walk into school and you see the faces of the children you teach and realise that you have made the right choice and this is definitely for you.  They are the reason that you plan, plan and plan some more.  They are the reason that you mark books and write challenges to push them further and they are the reason that when you leave that day you are exhausted but inspired.

So I have said farewell to my beginning placement school (for now) and I am now heading to another school in another year group, with another group of children and another challenge.  It will be as hard as the last with as many ups and downs, but if it is as rewarding, then who cares?!

There have been developments by Roy Edwards

The developing placement was short, sharp, and a bit of a shock but it was the best teaching practice so far.  I have learned so much about teaching in the last six weeks and improved my pedagogy hugely.  The placement school that was found for me couldn’t do enough and the support from Prestolee was only a short email, text or phone call away.

Throughout the placement my learning has been guided and structured with a clear focus on becoming the best practitioner I can be.  The aim is not to be good, but be outstanding and become a future leader.  I have improved my literacy skills, numeracy skills and ICT skills in an environment which, while challenging, is so much fun.  Furthermore, Prestolee have helped with personal statement and interview technique for potential employment, in addition to other key skills training,  which is something that I wasn’t expecting.

I really can’t recommend Prestolee enough for their support and guidance, and after speaking with trainee  teachers from other providers, I know that the level of education and support I am getting is second to none. 

Lastly, it is now the end of the developing placement and things have truly took a positive development.  The placement school I have been in have offered me a position as year 3 teacher starting in September as they were so impressed with my ability.  I am truly amazed at the opportunity I have and humbled by their faith in my ability but I know that it is the support and guidance of the Prestolee that helped me get my position.

Whilst I was away… by Joe Dempsey

It’s been a while since I last posted here- some months, in fact. Believe me, it doesn’t feel like that. In fact, it seems like yesterday that I headed up to Lancaster to register at Cumbria University. The time has rocketed past, and now, I’m preparing for the final stages of my training. It really is mind-blowing to think that there’s only about 12-weeks left, and then, well… Then I have to step into my own class, and do it all without a ‘safety net’(!) It’s both scary, and exhilarating; a bit like teaching generally, really!

There are some good reasons I haven’t posted for a while. Well, I think they’re good. Aside from the pressures of work (planning, making resources, reading and writing assignments are all pretty time-consuming), I became a parent. Yup. Right in the middle of placement number 2, our baby boy arrived. That makes it sound like it was a surprise, and to be fair, it wasn’t. Still, it made for some particularly challenging moments (and still adds some extra challenges, too!) Then, to ramp up stress levels further, Ofsted arrived. Thankfully, I would never be assessed as a part of their inspection. The school performed admirably, however, and it was certainly enlightening to see a school go through this very demanding process, and be part of the preparation. Despite all of this, I got through the placement in one piece, in no small part due to support of those around me.

Now, I feel the finish line is in sight. I’m very excited to work with my year 5 class again, and further sharpen my practise. As I sit here, in the midst of planning my maths, I do so in the knowledge that I have a job to go to in September! This year has been the culmination of a lot of hard work and commitment, so to have it rewarded with a job, and a class of my own is immensely gratifying. Somebody introduced me to the concept of ‘type 2 fun’ recently. The premise is that type 1 fun covers activities that are fun whilst you do them. Type 2 fun covers activities that are fun upon reflection, but not whilst doing them (running a marathon, for example). These activities tend to be the most rewarding, however. Though there have been many ‘type 1’ moments, teacher training would have to fall into the ‘type 2’ category, I suspect. I imagine the sort of mental resilience it requires to complete is similar to a marathon- there have been times where I have felt that I have hit ‘the wall’. Like a marathon, however, the rewards and sense of achievement are huge. I am glad I can see the finish, but would I run it again? Definitely. Just give me a while to recover….!

With regard to the new job, I’m exhilarated, scared…. Ask me in 12-months ;-)

P.S. type 3 fun is just not fun at all.