The only degree of its kind in the north of England, and one of only two in the whole country, the accelerated programme offers students the chance to graduate in two years rather than the traditional three years. The two-year programme was introduced as an alternative route to teaching, enabling students to begin their route to teaching who may not yet be eligible for QTS routes due to reasons such as needing a Science GCSE, or experience within a primary setting. Students study education through the lens of history, psychology, sociology, and philosophy, with a focus on research and its link to practice. The undergraduates spend time in local primary schools and in alternative education settings, including a school with a Steiner approach and one using the Montessori philosophy.
As the first cohort of students near the end of their degrees and look towards their futures, we have asked two students to reflect on why they had chosen the degree, and how the course had helped them to take their next steps towards their long-term goals. Shanise writes: “This degree has helped me get my foot into teaching. Although I struggled to obtain a C in GCSE science, I was still able to be a part of this course. I have extended my knowledge on educational theorists and philosophers and I have been able to build my confidence in working with a variety of age groups. After this degree, I am hoping to carry on my teaching career.”
Similarly, Sophie’s experience reflects the need for the degree. She writes “I chose this degree because I knew I was interested in primary education, but instead of doing a direct teacher training degree, I wanted to come to grips with the foundations of primary education and make sure that this pathway was for me. Studying this degree has helped me to understand that I definitely do want to become a primary school teacher. This degree has helped me to improve my professionalism and provided me with a range of skills and qualities to help me to continue to learn and develop as a trainee teacher.”
Shanise and Sophie demonstrate the importance of offering different routes for students who cannot yet access a QTS route. As we head towards graduation in the summer of this year, we are delighted that we have been able to help students such as Shanise and Sophie by saying ‘yes’ through offering them a chance to study for an alternative degree. We wonder how by opening the door to Shanise, Sophie, and their peers, they may in turn change the story of primary pupils locally, nationally, and even internationally.
With contributions from Sophie Turton and Shanise Panton.