How my PGCE has helped me kick-start a new career

Student spotlight | Philippa Nalson, PGCE Early Years (3-7) University Led with Recommendation for QTS


Philippa Nalson

Philippa Nalson is a mature student studying PGCE Early Years (3-7). Philippa discovered a love for working with children whilst working as an au pair whilst travelling. She shares what attracted her to studying at Leeds Beckett, and what she’s enjoyed most about the course.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what drew you to the PGCE in Early Years?

I graduated with a BSc in Animal Behaviour in 2012. After graduating I worked as a restaurant manager but I didn’t feel fulfilled in the job. I travelled the world for four years and during this time worked as an au pair in various countries. This experience was a lightbulb moment for me and made me realise that I wanted to work with young children long term. When I chose to return to England, I immediately applied for the PGCE (3-7) at Leeds Beckett University. Having had no previous school experience, my PGCE has kick-started my new career and has confirmed my desire to work as an early years teacher.

What made you choose Leeds Beckett?

When searching for a PGCE provider, I was really impressed by Leeds Beckett. The course appealed to me as there was a lot of placement experience included and, having never worked in a school before applying, this was really important to me. I was also excited by the opportunity to learn more about forest school on the course as I feel strongly about connecting children with the natural world. Finally, Leeds Beckett had impressive post-course employment statistics so I was confident that their training would be first class.

How have you found your postgraduate year and was it what you’d expected?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my PGCE so far. Although it was daunting to begin a postgraduate course eight years after graduating, Leeds Beckett made me feel fully supported and it didn’t take me long to find my feet with academic writing and ‘thinking’ again. Furthermore, completing my PGCE during a pandemic has been much better than I anticipated. I found that accessing the lectures remotely from home really suited me and my lifestyle, and Leeds Beckett have provided top-quality teaching, despite the challenges that a pandemic brings. Moreover, my placement schools have been extremely accommodating and I have been fortunate to have taught face-to-face lessons throughout the academic year.

What has been your favourite thing about your time studying at Leeds Beckett?

My favourite thing about studying my PGCE at Leeds Beckett University has definitely been the placement schools that I have been paired with. The support that I have received on placement has enabled my confidence and ability in teaching to flourish and I have made some lifelong friends along the way. In addition, the amount of time spent on placement has given me great opportunity to develop my teaching. I am really pleased with how much hands-on experience I have received on this course and feel that I am entering the teaching profession with great confidence in my own ability because of this.

What advice would you give someone thinking about studying this course?

My advice for anyone thinking about studying this course would be to go for it! I am so glad that I decided to complete my PGCE with Leeds Beckett and have found the course to be exactly what I wanted and needed. The course provides a great deal of teaching on theory but also provides a wealth of hands-on experience for trainees. I would also advise anyone starting the course to jump into the placements with enthusiasm and a willingness to get stuck in from the start. For me, this was the best way to learn and has enabled me to get the most out of all my placements.

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