Would you like to start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you are studying?
My name is Sue Micthell and I’m from Ebbw Vale. I am currently a mature student at Coleg Gwent’s Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone Campus studying my Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PgCE) in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PcET). It’s a part-time course delivered by the University of South Wales over two years.
Prior to starting the course I had been employed for over 24 years in a management position with Blaenau Gwent Local Authority as a Superintendent Registrar and Service Manager. I was responsible for recording births, marriages and deaths and performing marriage ceremonies.
How are you finding the course?
I started the course in September 2015 and am now in my second year and all being well I hope to graduate in the summer of 2017. I am really enjoying the course, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. The course is a big commitment with integrated teaching hours, observations, lesson plans and course work, but it’s an exciting and rewarding challenge.
Tell us about what practical teaching you have been doing?
I really enjoy the practical element of the course and because I have a science related degree, I have been able to support with some teaching on chemistry modules for a group of Level 3 Access to Science students at the college. The tutor has been there with me to provide support, which has been great and helped with my development. I have also had chance to teach on literacy and numeracy modules for the Independent Living Skills students at the college which is really rewarding.
What motivated you to study a university level course?
Originally, returning to education was more of a hobby that I used to keep myself (and my mind) busy after leaving employment due to ill health. I wanted to make sure I stayed active and kept my CV in good shape too. Initially I studied some short Bite-Sized courses in the community, one of which was a module called Preparing to Teach. I really enjoyed this course and it provided me with a platform and the drive to pursue a PgCE. I had studied for a degree with the Open University between 1998 and 2003 and that enabled me to apply for the graduate route of my current course. A big selling point was that the course was local to me and the timing was right too. I could walk to college or if I took the car then parking wasn’t too bad either. The college was near the leisure centre so I could combine trips to the gym with college. I also found the college class sizes to be smaller meaning we had more one on one time with the tutor, which, as I’d been worried I may get overwhelmed, worked out perfectly for me.
Would you recommend studying a higher education course in a local college?
Yes definitely! I’m really enjoying my time here at Coleg Gwent. I can’t believe how friendly and welcoming the college is. There is a real sense of community and the staff have been supportive. I’m enjoying the interaction with the both tutors and student and being in the college environment. The course is something which I can put on my CV and it has presented itself with other opportunities which I ordinarily wouldn’t have had. I have also become a Student Ambassador for the college whereby I help out on open evenings and events. I think it’s important that a mature student like me takes on an ambassador role to help show the diversity of the college and hopefully help give the confidence and inspiration to other mature learners to return to education.
What do you hope to do next and do you have any particular career ambitions?
I would like to return to employment preferably working in the education sector perhaps undertaking some part time teaching. I quite like supporting people and helping others achieve their potential. I’m exploring the possibility of working with prisoner’s to deliver numeracy, literacy and essential skills courses. For me though, the qualification was just a bonus of my studies, finding my own self-worth, regaining my confidence and proving I was still able to undertake this level of study have been my biggest achievements. Returning to education really gave me the boost I needed at a time when things all seemed to be going sideways for me, and for that I will be forever grateful.