Anna uses her PIPS to guide her career towards the teaching profession

Anna Colvile, a student based at the John Innes Centre, is considering training to be a secondary school teacher post-PhD so wanted to use her PIPS to get experience in a school setting. Anna organised the placement by contacting The Priory Learning Trust, located near to personal contacts that she had, and arranging a placement at Worle Community School Academy.

The placement had two main parts; shadowing members of the Science Department teaching staff and working directly with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) assistants. “I started off by shadowing Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) and science teachers for the first couple of weeks and I continued to have a good connection to the SEND department while working primarily in the science department for the rest of my placement” says Anna. Anna constructed her own timetable to work with specific SEND students which enabled her to develop her interpersonal skills.

Anna reflected on the positive collaborative atmosphere at the school with frequent sharing of practice between staff members. Anna was able to observe different styles of teaching the science curriculum and in-class behaviour management. She learnt a lot about the spectrum of students with SEND (diagnosed and undiagnosed) and how to tailor teaching methods to individuals to enable them to engage and progress. Anna had the opportunity to attend a SEND staff professional development day and she also proactively researched information online.
Anna had lots of flexibility to direct the placement as she wanted, and got involved in a variety of things both in and out of the classroom. “I participated in ‘Thrive’ meetings associated with psychological development of pupils and trauma-informed teaching. I led a Teaching and Learning carousel session after school about Building Relationships where I facilitated sharing of expertise between teachers. I taught a small group of students for a week, doing revision and exam paper walkthroughs with the small-group benefit of having greater opportunity for interaction and support. When mocks were completed, I was responsible for data input to enable trialling a new data analysis software” says Anna.

Anna took the initiative to develop a new framework for the KS3 Science Curriculum producing lesson templates and increasing accessibility of associated resource documents. Anna’s main supervisor on the placement was the Director of Science across the whole Trust (3 high schools and 5 primary schools). They were so impressed with the materials Anna developed that the format and resources have now been rolled out across the Trust. Through this project Anna gained knowledge of curriculum development. Anna also worked like an LSA with some students, including one student who she supported daily in tutor times and attended interventions with his main LSA.

Anna was really positive about the amount of trust and responsibility she was given during her placement, which has significantly increased her confidence to take the initiative in different work settings and she was pleased to know that her actions can create positive impact. She feels confident to instigate change where needed back in her PhD. Anna had only positive comments to make about her PIPS experience and would not have changed anything about it.

Overall, Anna rates her PIPS placement as a very positive experience. “I am much more confident in my aspiration to train as a secondary school teacher after my PhD and in my ability to do well during my PhD. I believe I have skills and interests which are important in the teaching profession, and the desire to learn and develop more. I have also experienced working in school and discovered that it is an environment where I can work well” says Anna.

“This internship placement is a great opportunity for you to do something that might not be otherwise possible – it’s different to a job because the focus is you and your own professional development, so you can follow your interests and learn or explore something different”, she concludes.