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Sarah Barnard

Sarah worked in the IT industry for 20 years before becoming a carer and part time teaching assistant.

She had heard of the Institute of Education, University of Reading's outstanding reputation. Being close to home, it also enabled Sarah to balance caring responsibilities with full-time study.

Sarah wanted to train as a primary teacher for many years and having worked and volunteered in a variety of schools, she felt that the academic aspects of the PGCE, coupled with the QTS would give her more depth to her practice, complimenting her practical experience and skills.

"The course gave me a solid understanding of teaching and learning, from first principles, to exploring areas of professional practice and the curriculum outside of my personal experience. The mixed format of the course with blocks of university study and school placements, enabled me to immediately put my learning into practice and consolidate my understanding in real life situations."

She continued:

"My school placements really inspired me to explore how far I could go in developing my skills, while being a part of the school team and ensuring the children were progressing in their learning. This enabled me to identify that a SEN school was the right setting for me to choose for my ECT year."

In terms of pastoral support, Sarah found the Institute of Education was excellent.

Staff were proactive in offering support, both on an ad hoc basis and with structured offerings of specialist support groups and tutorials. The support and guidance provided by tutors, lecturers and mentors gave Sarah confidence when she went into school placements, enabling her to fit in right from the start.

"The course director, provided a wealth of experience and helped us all to develop as reflective practitioners. Catherine Foley, our maths tutor, was also an inspirational teacher whose lectures provided us with the depth and breadth of knowledge to start our teaching career confident in our ability to teach maths to all ages."

Sarah is now working as a teacher at the local SEND school she completed a placement at during the course.