I survived my primary placement…

and even got a very nice report (and a bit of a sniffle) to show for it!

By the end of the week I had managed to:

  • Spend time in every KS/age range in the school
  • Tick off everything on my essay sheet
  • Talk to everyone I had to talk to
  • Get copies of EVERYTHING
  • Give a lesson to year 5/6

So it was all go; very exciting and very informative. I have learnt a lot and it will take me a while to put my thoughts down in a coherent manner. The thing that will probably stick with me the most is the way the primary school uses Building Learning Power and integrates it into everything they do. When pupils were writing their end of unit creative story they were constantly looking at their plan from the lesson before but also looking at the targets they’d been set. I don’t know about you but at school we never read feedback let alone acted on it. The pupils were also using post-it notes to give feedback and ask questions to the teacher, and the teachers were consistent in their use of the rewards and sanctions schemes. Overall it was a brilliant and useful experience, and was a really great school to have to write a ‘personalised learning’ essay about.

Secondary school teachers could learn so much from spending a week in primary.

Now for two weeks in uni doing lectures then on the secondary school…

Primary Placement!

At my uni we do a primary school placement in week three (next week!). There’s loads of reasons for this and it’s going to be a great experience! I’m luckier than most – my placement is a 10 minute walk away. We have LOADS of reading to do and loads of things to do/find out and people to talk to. It’s going to be full on. I’m really looking forward to it!

Student Loans

I just got my student loan through!

Only 11 days after my course started, and 4 days after the uni promised we’d have it.

I was teetering on the brink of my overdraft limit so now I feel a lot happier and a lot less worried about money, however!

My bank balance is still negative.

I fail at life!


What can I tell you about Ironbridge?
I wasn’t sure how to approach this post, so I decided to approach it from the different objectives the trip was supposed to achieve (from my point of view).

Getting to know each other
The trip, even though it was only the second week, came too late for people to get to know each other. Everyone already had their friendship groups sorted out (SKE and newbies alike) so there wasn’t much mixing of new people. Fine if you’ve got friends but not what the trip was about. When the booze and snacks were cracked out the lecturers were nowhere to be found.

Useful practical activities
We didn’t do anything that we couldn’t have done in uni. Even the geology trail. We had one on campus last year and we’re having one on campus in a fortnight. Don’t get me wrong, the activities were great and I especially loved the biology trail around Blists Hill, but if the uni are tryong to save money they could host 2 day pseudo-STEM days at the uni. I would have liked to make a tile rather than going round a tile museum.

Seeing the value of field trips and residentials
Most people agree that field trips are fun and therefore facilitate learning. I think the field trip could be improved by making the activities that we did more relevant to where we were. We did physics, geology, biology and chemistry, and at no point did anyone specifically say why we were there. The residential aspect (the bit I was most dreading) was fun and worthwhile since I’d never been on a residential before. I only got 2 hours sleep but I think most people were in a similar boat, whether from drinking or from room-sharing.

Overall I think it was a worthwhile life and learning experience, but if the department is struggling enough to need future students to pay for it then they could make it a day trip or host it on campus with a restaurant meal afterwards. My other suggestions would be for them to make the activities more relevant to the location, or to make better use of the ‘dead-time’ before and after dinner perhaps with more team building than talks.

My last comment is just to note the difficulty some people had in finding car-sharing.

Day 8!

A lot of things to mention since the last post!

We still haven’t had our loans through yet! They said they would be through a week after our enrollment forms went in (over a week ago now!) but now they’re saying it could be up to 4 weeks. To make matters worse friends at two other universities all received their loans pretty much straight away. I bottomed out my overdraft over the summer to pay for rent, food, bills and car insurance, and now I have to pay for car tax and petrol to get to uni with zero money. I’m very lucky that I can rely on The Other Half to lend me living expenses and I know he’d lend me anything else I needed but it’s still very stressful. Other people aren’t so lucky. One guy has been dipping into his savings and another 30-something guy has had to ask the bank of mum and dad for a loan. Some people are even worse off and are having to apply for a hardship loan from the university. It’s making an already stressful course even more stressful. Lack of funds brings me to…

The Iron Bridge


Tomorrow we’re all going on a residential field trip to Ironbridge Gorge and will be looking at many different things in different places. It should be fun and exciting and blah blah blah. We’ve all had to organise lifts with people who we’ve known for a week, and sometimes only met once, and then we sleep in bunks in a hostel with 15 in a room. This worries me somewhat but I’m determined to enjoy it and make the most of the whole experience. I’m getting a lift down from uni with 2 girls in my group (who were on the SKE) so at least that part is sorted and worry-free.

We’ve also been told where our first two placements are. We spend next week in a primary school then in a few weeks we have our first proper secondary placement! Very exciting. My primary placement is very near where I live (I can walk there! Saves money!) but I suspect I might be there on my own (This is worrying but gives me the chance to man up and become a teacher). My secondary placement is also nearby and best of all I’m with another SKE science student who is absolutely lovely and will be picking me up on the way! There are five of us in all going to that particular school including an IT guy, a languages girl and a history (I think) girl. The school looks quite good and has a sixth form, which does mean that we’re going to have to man up and elbow ourselves some post-16 teaching time.

I think that’s enough for one post! Wish me luck in Ironbridge…

100 students in a hostel?

Day 3

Just a quick one today, we had a lecture on the purposes of education followed by an afternoon in our main methods group (science). Lots of little things to do, but I didn’t have a headache when I got home! Will have to make a to do list.

Day Two

Rosalind Franklin

After a lecture titled, ‘Is Teaching a Profession?’ (Answer: Yes) I met my Supplementary Studies group. This is all the people on the PGCE who are specialising in physics. Out of 54 science ATs there are 14 in physics, which includes only 2 girls and only 2 people who weren’t on the SKE.

I know physics is male-dominated but I was a bit disappointed that there are only 2 girls training. I was also very surprised at how few new people we have, especially given the numbers of new people in chemistry and the huge amount of people doing biology.

I’m so glad I did the SKE now, and I feel sorry for the new guys. They will probably find themselves behind on their basic physics knowledge and teaching experience, and they also have to work their way into a group of 12 who have already been together for a year. Of course I could be wrong, they could be super-genius’ who’ve spent every summer running science camps for kids. If I was in their situation though it would be so much harder for me than it is now I’ve done the SKE.

Now I just need to start on the assignments I’ve already been given.


I survived my first day!

The first day of my PGCE felt like the biggest hurdle of the the whole course. Would the SKE group talk to me? Would the new people talk to me? Would I find the right lecture room? Would all the new people have PhDs and seem infinitely cleverer than us, whilst having taught for so long that QTS was just a formality?

Turns out everyone felt exactly the same way.

Even the brave, bold and boisterous SKE members went into automatic huddle-with-people-you-know mode. The only edge anybody had was that some of us already knew the campus and where everything was.

We had some intro lectures then split into tutor groups (which seemed mostly based on geographical location) and got a bit of admin/ice-breaking done. After an ingenious display of name learning from our tutor I think I can remember everyone’s names, but we’ll see tomorrow!

We’ve received our first assignment, and have two university weeks before a primary placement. For now I’m going to have a cup of tea and copy important dates into my diary. Tomorrow we start science lessons!

Plus, I’m now an Associate Teacher. Awesome!

Book Review – Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science

Still looking at general public science interest books we now look at:

Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science, John Gribbin 1998

Available here at Amazon.co.uk. ISBN: 0-75380-769-6

Source: Google

John Gribbin is a prolific science writer, with nonfiction books covering physices, biology and chemistry. His aim with this particular book was to give basic science information to the layperson, who was perhaps interested in quantum mechanics, but had never studied it before. He also wanted to link together all aspects of science, and takes us through atoms, to quantum mechanics, to chemistry, to DNA, life, evolution and the universe. Gribbin is obviously an expert, and does well writing for the amateur. Gribbin blends technical and informal language fluidly and coherently so the reader understands the terms in relation to their own lives and experiences.

Gribbin uses anecdotes about eminent scientists to give readers an image of how science ideas developedthroughout history. He flows from one idea to the next, linking discoveries and scientists, and points to other chapters (or even books) where certain ideas are explored further.

Almost Everyone’s Guide… is fascinating. It’s very interesting, and I honestly learnt a lot. It may seem strange but when you have an understanding of basic quantum mechanics (Chapters 1 & 2), it makes chemisty a lot easier to follow. Even though I have a degree in biology, the way Gribbin describes evolution is interesting and worth a read. This book would be great for someone like my Dad, who has a great interest in science, but no formal education in it. It is also a great starting point for someone (like me) who wants to brush up on their basics, and learn how to explain scientific ideas in an interesting way. Gribbin provides plenty of references for the reader to follow up on areas of interest as well as footnotes to further explain certain ideas.

To me, this book seemed like A Breif History of Time, but for all the sciences. Rather than 11 chapters on pure physics, it has a physics backbone with chapters mainly on biology, chemistry or geology weaved throughout. Although, as Gribbin himself shows us, all of the sciences are so intertwined that you can’t write about one without mentioning the others.  Although the content itself can be found elsewhere, the way in which Gribbin ‘tells the story’ of the universe and life is something I haven’t seen elsewhere. It really is a great starting point for scientific study.

I would highly recommend this book to anywho who wants a more integrated understanding of science, or just needs to brush up on the basics. If I were to make any criticism, it would be that a lot of Gribbin’s descriptions would benefit from the inclusion of diagrams. For example, although atom electron shells and DNA structure are well described, it might be helpful to show the reader as well.

Books books books

I love libraries. I really do!

I bought several A level revision guides when I was tutoring, since I thought it would be handy to have my own copies. Even taking out these I still have a pretty substantial reading list to get through.

I can’t imagine how much it would have cost me if my library couldn’t get hold of them for me!