We interviewed Vicki Manning, a former student and here is what she had to say about her experiences studying the BAEd Primary Education with Art specialism at the Institute of Education.
Why did you choose to study at University of Reading?
I always wanted to teach so I knew I wanted to do a 3-4 year teaching course in order to learn as much as possible.
University of Reading was one of a small group of universities offering a specialism, and I was keen to continue my studies in Art even though I did not want to pursue this as a career. I liked that the course separated the art elements so that I would have an opportunity to continue my own art practice, as well as learning how to teach. I also liked the number of placements as I wanted to combine study with practical application.
What aspects of your course have inspired you most?
The Maths and English sessions in particular are ones that still inform my practice today, where we were encouraged to consider pupils' experiences of learning. The lecturers used creative teaching approaches to embed ideas, such as teaching a Maths session in Welsh to demonstrate how we can better provide for EAL learners.
The course also helped me to get in touch with why I wanted to be a teacher. Lecturers were so passionate about what they did and how this impacted on students' lives, which encouraged me to see how powerful the teachers' role is.
One of the first assignments I had for the art element of the course was to write about my own experiences of learning art, including photos of the work I did at primary school. The experience of considering the impact my own teachers had on my life was powerful. It made me realise that, without those teachers, I probably wouldn't have been to university. I was from a 'disadvantaged' family and the route to university wasn't a natural choice. However the belief in me, the enthusiasm and the commitment to changing lives that these teachers embodied helped me on my way.
These reflective elements of the course ensured that I entered my teaching career with a strong understanding of the importance of the role and the absolute commitment that I was there to make a difference to the lives of young people. It is this vision that has driven me to seek out schools in challenging areas and to work specifically with pupils who need the support and belief that I was shown in my early years.
Have you participated in placements?
I had four placements at primary schools during the course. They were great opportunities to put theory in to practice and to experience working in a professional environment. They also provided networking opportunities, and my first teaching role was offered by a head teacher I had met during a placement.
Have you participated in any active research?
My dissertation allowed me to focus on Autism, which was an experience that still informs my work today. It was very useful to have an opportunity to study a specialist area in more depth and to meet with professionals.
Did you find any one lecturer inspired you during your time at Reading?
Our lecturer for English inspired me greatly with her passion and enthusiasm. I still hold the enjoyment and nurture of the whole child at the heart of what I do. Her passion enabled me to see the impact of a committed educator on their students, and allowed me to overcome my natural introversion in order to become a more confident and engaging teacher. I still believe in the importance of story-telling and reading aloud with all students at all ages, and I have naturally taken on the leadership of reading at the schools I have worked at, which I believe to be inspired by her.
Where are you now?
I am working in a primary school and I have just started my second term as a head teacher. I am part of the Ambition School Leadership network, in my second year of their Future Leaders course, which accelerated my journey to headship.
I aspire to improve as a head teacher and to continue to lead schools in challenging contexts to provide an outstanding education for young people in challenging socio-economic contexts. Eventually I hope to influence a larger number of organisations, such as through multi academy leadership and / or consultancy work. I can now see the potential to make changes on a larger scale, aspiring to impact education at a system level to ensure that the vision and values cultivated in my early career are realised for a larger number of pupils.