UCAS Listings: Case Notes - `It is not as easy as it looks'

Josephine Whyte is discovering while teacher training is fun, it is also a lot of hard work
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The Independent Online
Josephine Whyte has just finished her first year taking a BEd in drama and education at Homerton College in Cambridge. Its school of education is based on a site about two miles from the heart of the city, in a new purpose-built centre fully networked for IT. The education qualifications offered by the colleges lead to qualifications awarded by Cambridge University, and two full-time courses of initial teacher training (BEd and PGCE) are offered, together with long and short in-service courses for teachers.

For Josephine, the decision to make teaching her chosen degree was not difficult. She says: "My father is a teacher, and it's just something I've always wanted to do." She is now about to start her second year at Homerton, and is loving the course.

Josephine, from Bath, says: "I took my A-levels in theatre studies, English and religious studies. I got an A, B and C so I could have chosen a straight English or drama degree if I'd wanted to, but I've always known that I wanted to teach. I suppose you could say it is a vocation. I did think about maybe specialising in drama and then doing a post-graduate course, but drama courses are very competitive and it isn't a very stable career option."

Josephine has already had a great deal of teaching experience. "For a long time I have been helping out in the holidays on projects for children with special needs," she says. Josephine chose Homerton because she loves the city of Cambridge, and says the social life is excellent. The course she is taking runs for four years, with two spent specialising in drama, and two focusing on aspects of teaching at primary level. So far in her first year she has had four short-term placements in schools.

"That's been really good fun," she says. "I've been at the school with five other trainee teachers, and we've been shadowing members of staff and working with groups of children." Josephine will be trained in all subjects to teach at "key stage two" - seven to 11-year-olds, but hopes to be able to use her drama specialism. "I don't think there is enough drama taught at primary level, and it's such a valuable tool, with many things you can teach through it."

On the drama side of the course, she has been studying drama practitioners, the practical side in examined performance and next year her specialism will be arts and performance. "I can choose from different options like acting, directing or production," she says. There is also a media option, and film presentation. "In terms of the actual teaching, we're covering the core subjects of maths, science and English, and the teaching methods within these subjects. We will also be looking at the psychological side of teaching - a lot of the `how-to-handle-children' part comes when you're actually in school, and you have to deal with real examples of problems."

Josephine admits the profession does currently attract a rather negative attitude. "When I tell people I'm doing teacher training, they tend to see it as an easy option. But it's very far from that, which people would realise if they went into schools!

"One of the best things is that at the end of the four years I am pretty certain I will get a job easily - and there aren't many professions you can say that about."

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