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photos by Kate Sutherland

Cover story

Facing the future

Sarah Skinner, probationer teacher

“The breadth of the PGDE(P) course gave me the opportunity to develop my professional and personal skills in a number of areas.”

With Scotland moving towards an expanded teacher workforce of 53,000, it is vital that quality new entrants can continue to be attracted into the teaching profession.

With the start of the new term, 3,600 new probationer teachers have now joined colleagues in schools and are now putting theory into practice as they work with pupils, supported by colleagues, as they aim to achieve full registration as teachers. The improved induction arrangements, introduced as part of the 21st Century Agreement, are helping to smooth the transition from student teacher to working teacher for new entrants.

In this article, new probationer teacher Sarah Skinner (pictured above) from Aberdeenshire looks back at her time as a PGDE student at the University of Aberdeen, shares her early impressions of her year as a probationer teacher at Pitfour primary school in Aberdeen, and looks ahead to her own future as a teacher and the future of the education system in Scotland. “It had long been a dream of mine to work with primary school age children, and have a major influence on their development. I grew up in a family of teachers, and knew that this was the path that I wanted to take when the time was right. I was therefore delighted to be offered a place on the PGDE (Primary) course at Aberdeen University for the session 2005/2006. Now, as I embark on my probation year, I would like to share a little about my journey so far and my plans for my future career.

8 Scottish Educational Journal October 06

I went to Glasgow University in 1996 and gained a BSc. in Topographic Science. After university, I worked offshore as a hydrographic surveyor for three years where I developed many skills which have benefited me greatly over the past year and will continue to do so in my new career. I learned how to integrate and build relationships with people from all walks of life while long spells at sea taught me patience and co-operation. The data processing aspect of my job required someone methodical

and organised, skills that I have found to be vital to the teaching profession.

Having found that my lack of experience with children impeded my application for the PGDE course in 2003, I decided to leave my offshore job and find a job which would help me in this area. I was offered a temporary position as a classroom assistant at Banff Academy, working in the Curriculum Support Unit for two months; I greatly enjoyed my time there as it gave me the opportunity to see first hand what a teaching job entails and the many benefits that can be reaped from watching the progress of each individual pupil.

It was with great trepidation that I entered through the automatic doors of the MacRobert building at Aberdeen University for the first time in the summer of 2005. I did not know what to expect and was worried that I did not have what it takes to be a teacher. With hindsight I can tell you that I was right to be anxious. Despite having great drive and determination to succeed in my chosen career, I did not yet have the skills necessary for effective teaching, but then, that was the reason that I was there after all.

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