“The pandemic has made me more passionate about teaching”

THE very first apprentice teacher to qualify from the University of Sunderland is now looking forward to making a difference to pupils’ lives after a “very challenging but rewarding year.”

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SARAH Chambers, from Stockton, completed her course last month and has begun the next phase of her career as a biology teacher at Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough.

The 28-year-old, who studied an apprenticeship in PGCE Secondary Science (Biology), said: “During this unprecedented time, it has been a challenge but one which I have relished, and I am so thankful for the support I’ve received from my school and the University. It has enabled me to become successful and complete the course.

“The biggest challenge was to engage students with online learning, due to distractions at home. Therefore, I adopted a more creative and playful approach to teaching during this time.

“The Covid pandemic has made me more passionate about teaching because it has highlighted that school and education is not just about academic grades and teaching in the classroom, it’s about developing young people into future leaders.”

Through the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship, Sarah was able to gain invaluable ‘on the job’ experience, while achieving a PGCE qualification and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

She also had a personal tutor from the University supporting her every step of the way.

“I never imagined that I would ever get this opportunity,” Sarah said.

“I appreciate both my school and the University supporting me through the stepping stones to become a successful teacher, which I am eternally grateful for.

“After a few years of being an unqualified teacher, it is now my time to shine and make my family proud.”

Susan Edgar, Head of the School of Education

Susan Edgar, Head of the School of Education at the University, added: “We would like to congratulate Sarah for being our very first trainee to qualify through the PGCE Teacher Apprentice Programme. This is an excellent achievement.

“Our thanks must also go to her employer Unity City Academy for their excellent work in supporting Sarah in partnership with the University of Sunderland.

“Praise must also go to our excellent Programme Leaders Allison WilsonEmma Cullen and Sarah Reed here at the University, who have worked so hard to support the trainees and successfully established this unique route into teaching.”

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