When Victoria Turland completed her PGCE and qualified as a Biology teacher, she felt she still had unfinished academic business. So, following her NQT year at Bassingbourn Village College, she returned to Darwin to pursue her Masters in Education.

“I enjoyed the research aspect of my PGCE so much that I expanded it into my Masters thesis,” she explains. “I was looking at drama in science teaching – sometimes we can be so focused on delivering the content, and I wanted to explore how we could make that delivery more creative. I did a lot of role play with the students, such as having them pretend to be surgeons when we were completing dissections!”

Victoria’s PGCE year was cut short by the pandemic, and her first year in teaching was heavily influenced by continuing Covid precautions.

“The kids stayed put all day, and the teachers rotated around them. So this is the first year that I’ve had my own classroom with the students coming to me. Then as soon as things settled down we had an Ofsted inspection. I was on a training day in Saffron Walden and got a phone call saying “come back here now – you don’t have time for lunch!”

Once she had settled into the routine of teaching, however, Victoria succumbed to the itch to pursue her research, completing her Masters while continuing to teach at Bassingbourn.

I’d give myself an hour or two on weeknights to stay in my classroom and get my Masters work done. My punishment if I didn’t was that I would have to work at the weekend, which I tried to avoid!

Victoria lived on Hills Road during her PGCE year for easy access to the Faculty of Education, and therefore spent much of her time at Homerton College which, being next door to the Faculty and as the University’s former teacher training college, still attracts the majority of the PGCE intake.

“I ended up being quite involved in college life at both Colleges, but I very deliberately applied to Darwin – I liked the idea of a postgraduate College, and Darwin seemed so clear about what it was.”

While she is enjoying the novelty of being able to focus on the challenges and demands of a full-time teaching job without trying to fit further commitments around it, academia may not have finished with Victoria just yet.

“I really enjoyed the whole experience. I’m trying to find a way that I can stay in the academic sphere – maybe a PhD further down the line!”

Victoria will graduate with a Masters in Education on Saturday.

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