PGCE Journey

So, anybody who really knows me should know by now that I can be somewhat if an impulsive person and I like to do things on a whim when the fancy takes me… usually I end up either doing something fun or committing to something big… guess which one this blog post will be about?! Sit comfortable and let me tell you this little story…

So, I have been toying with the idea of doing something new with my life for a while now. I very much enjoy my job; colleagues are great, the students are comical and every day is different and I like that, however, I knew I wasn’t being challenged in the way I’d like- sure, challenges were being thrown at me (supporting a VI child with 0 previous experience!) but, Nah, I wanted something different.

But, I wasn’t intentionally looking for anything. I’m a believer in the universe giving you what you need at that time… and I needed something but I was comfortable in my ‘bubble’ doing the same routines day in, day out…

Browsing Facebook one lazy evening I came across a link someone had posted in a wild camping/outdoors group about their mate running an Outdoor Activities PGCE at Bangor University in North Wales… well, straight away there are three things I liked the sound of in that:

  • Wales
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Bangor University.

So, I had a gander at the link.

That gander turned into more looking, that looking turned into more looking and even more looking till eventually, I thought I’d ask for help on applying…

I’m not going to go too much into this, I think I’ve told all that I want to know, but let’s just say I didn’t get the help and support one might expect from their employer if they want to progress… which left me very disheartened.

Still, being of the impulsive and stubborn nature that I have I applied the moment the PGCE applications opened. I thought “What have I got to lose?” (I literally apply that to about 80% of the things I do). I had a small chance- only 4 spaces. Still a chance right?

Getting one of the references took forever- the first came quickly yet the second took a while – I was bugging her PA on an almost daily basis until the PA made my reference a priority (web window open ready for form filling) … With all parts filled in, I paid and I went on my merry way. “What have I got to lose?” (£24 at this point)

The very next day the email stated: “We’ve received your application and wish to invite you to interviewWHAT THE MONKEYS?! I didn’t even have time to console myself that I’ll be rejected at the first hurdle… reply sent “YES OF COURSE I’LL GO!” “What have I got to lose?

Fast forward two weeks of feeling fabulous [darling!] at being offered an interview that quickly I found myself making the journey up to North Wales, sleeping in the car in a lay-by (did I mention at this point how I can sleep anywhere?) and interview the next day…

I should have been more nervous than I was but then I didn’t go into this with expectations. “What have I got to lose?” I just had to be me. I knew my experience will give me lots of talk about and I also knew I would have to explain why I’m not in an Animal Management career as my degree suggests I should be (working with students kinda relates to it right?)…

I was definitely the oldest one there- all the other applicants for Teacher Training in PE, Maths and Outdoor Activities looked very very young… I’m sure have fillings older than them… (I think).

Anyway, the literacy and maths tests- easy. I wasn’t concerned about them (the cocky little bleeder I am at times), then came the interview.

I don’t think the lad before me did well, he didn’t seem joyous when he left and quickly disappeared… “Was it really that bad?” [Edited to say: he did get on the course in the end!!]

My interview was with the course director, Graham and a mentor from a placement school. I liked Graham instantly – I think he’ll be fantastic to learn from and honest in his feedback and also supportive. I had to describe how I would teach a child how to belay- I used the “pinch, slide, repeat” method over the “1,2,3” method and was questioned on this- I suitably impressed and I think it showed that I was conscious about the ability of a learner and the safety aspects!

Yes, the question about my degree not being related to my chosen TT subject came up… I was honest and said that, at the time, the subject matter interested me but what I took away was something far better- independence, self-reliance, etc which had landed me jobs in different fields (eg retail, management). Being honest and learning from your mistakes and recognising that you can grow as a person through varied experiences counts for a lot in my opinion- there’s a big world out there, why not grow with it?

I walked out of them feeling elated. I’m generally a ‘silver lining kinda girl’ and thought that, even if they didn’t want me, I did well in that interview and had good answers to the questions asked and asked good questions to the director. Plus, “What have I got to lose?” (At the point, £24 fee, diesel money & food but I had a good mini adventure to Wales and saw Tryfan again)

Well… the next day this came in an email:


You could have knocked me out with a gentle breeze at this point. I enquire when I would find out the outcome of the interview before my Nepal trip, I just hadn’t expected it in the afternoon the next day.

Naturally, I told my favourite people at work first (although I forgot the tell the one person who told me years ago to “Go For It” when I had various ideas at work and his words have always stuck with me since whenever I question if I should do something. He also wrote my reference and I felt proud to tell him!), then I told others and now I’m writing it on here.

Funding has just opened and I’ve just applied- the declaration has been accepted and now I await, with baited breath, crossed fingers and a rabbit’s foot, that I will be granted the full tuition fee amount and full maintenance loan- without this I may have to defer, which is something I don’t want to happen! I’ve just bought my camper van (another post on this) which will be my accommodation and begun making sure I turn my experience into National Governing Body award certificates for the course.

This journey has only just begun for me. I’ve kept it secret for fear of failure but now I want to be more open and write about it because I want family to be able to follow what I’m up to. It’s not going to be easy. I’ll be out of comfort zone, hours away from family and friends (my dog!!), by myself and having to sort myself out but I’m looking forward to the harsh times and the great times plus I’ll be in Wales and close to the coast…

What have I got to lose?

Just Joanne

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