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Dolly Churchill

Dolly chose to study with the Wokingham Federation, one of the University of Reading's School Direct partners because she had a great experience working within their schools as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA). This school experience helped her to prepare for her PGCE (School Direct) course.

Incredible support

Once on the course, Dolly particularly loved working and studying with the community of trainee teachers which she had joined. She found that everyone supported each other on the programme and experienced an inspiring and unique sense of professional development.

"My course leader, Rachel Roberts, was particularly inspirational. She arranged a variety of different lectures and discussion points so that we could all fully appreciate the diverse nature of working as a secondary English teacher."

Finding her style

"My favourite part of the course was the encouragement to 'find your style'. This was so valuable to me - we learnt about so many different ways to teach with the aim of helping us find our own unique style. It was great to see how we could use our individuality to help students learn."

Placements

Dolly undertook several placements, not just in her base school. For the 'Enrichment' programme, she visited a special school for children with behavioural issues. She found it invaluable to see a completely different learning environment compared to a typical comprehensive or grammar school. The techniques for behaviour management she observed there were significant in her professional development.

"I am a big fan of a teacher being a 'reflective practitioner' and in that respect, I feel I am constantly learning and developing my practice. I especially enjoyed the exploration of academic research in completing the assignments for the PGCE."

Working with mentors

Dolly benefited from working with her mentor, a key part of the School Direct programme: "The pastoral support was excellent - my mentor, Rachel, was very supportive. I had a 'wobble' with the teaching pressures and she was a real rock during this time."

Looking to the future

Dolly now works as a Teacher of English, and is a Reading Partnership Trainee Mentor supporting the current cohort of trainees and is Associate Transition Coordinator. She loved her time at the Institute of Education so much, she is now applying to continue her academic studies on the MA in Education.