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Phil Mathe

PGCE Top-up Primary/Early Years/Secondary

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Phil Mathe is currently the Director of Sport at Brighton College.

I was looking for a course that would allow me to transfer my original teaching qualification to a full PGCE and there really was no more obvious choice than the PGCE Top-up from the University of Northampton. As soon as I started looking into the option to work with Northampton it felt like a perfect fit, allowing me to work remotely with support, to focus my work on areas that would impact directly on my teaching and the level of interaction with students on the course seemed to suit my style of working

Having originally qualified with a GTP and with over 12 years of experience I did not feel a full PGCE was appropriate or realistic. The Top-Up course gave me the opportunity to undertake research and practice that suited my subject area, my level of experience and the amount of time I could commit to the process.

As an experienced teacher the course allowed me to reflect on my practice in a really proactive way. I’ve used the course to interact with other teacher students and the support provided by the course tutors has led me to re-engage with educational research and has given me a greater understanding of the methods of teaching and learning I have used in my career to this point.

Having not engaged with research based education for many years the course has really helped me to look at more modern and current practice and reflect on the way in which I teach and how I can engage with research again to drive my practice forward even further. It has really sparked my interest in the pedagogy of education and I am now far more proactive in my approach to researching my teaching.

As I have a specific interest in the science of retrieval practice I was delighted to find out that I could specialise in this area throughout my assignments and research. The ability to focus on this and the requirement to read and research into the subject in far more depth than I had done previously has really helped me develop a much more scientific understanding of the pedagogy of its use and its benefit to cognitive loading within my students. I have changed and adapted my approach to, and use of, retrieval practice as a direct result of my work during this process and am now hoping to continue this into my masters studies at the end of the PGCE-Top Up course.

As GTP is only recognised in a handful of countries and I have ambitions to work in countries where GTP is not currently accepted, topping up to a full PGCE will give me far greater professional freedom to explore new opportunities in the coming years.

The support from the course tutors (Helen and Jo) has been exceptional and really helpful. I have been able to communicate with them whenever I have needed to and they have always responded almost immediately. As an oversea’s teacher it can be frustrating to have to wait for responses or feedback but the systems and processes Northampton have put in place and the effort of the course tutors has made me feel thoroughly supported throughout.

If you are considering studying this course I have found that setting regular and focused time for reading and researching to really important. Working full time in a challenging international environment means that I have to plan my time to ensure I have been able to maintain my focus on the projects and assignments required for this programme. Engaging with my fellow students has been a real positive for me as I have been able to interact with their projects and situations in a way that gave my writing depth I would not have been able to gather from just my own educational environment. It’s not an easy course. It requires a proactive engagement throughout and a level of discipline to ensure that deadlines are met and the appropriate level of effort can be put into your work.