The long haul

12th May 2006 at 01:00
Sophia Bryan, above, enjoyed her teaching degree, particularly the experience she picked up on the way

It's not an easy decision, becoming a teacher. But once I'd made up my mind, I still had to work out my route to get there.

It was only seven years ago, but that's a long time in education, and there weren't as many options as there are today.

The journey I embarked on led me to Roehampton university. Little did I know that my cohort was to go down in the university's history as the last set to have graduated from Roehampton's four-year training programme. We did the BA (Hons) teaching studies - a four-year, modular honours degree that set out to develop subject knowledge and teaching skills.

We had loads of teaching practices in selected schools over four years. It gave us the chance to gain a thorough understanding of children, and of the curriculum.

Although the programme seemed never-ending, I had a huge advantage over other newly qualified teachers. I had a depth of knowledge and confidence that they lacked .

Perhaps one of the crucial factors of the programme I followed, compared with PGCE courses, is the time given to things that matter - building classroom confidence and the chance to critically examine the nature of education and its provision. It was a school-focused course, and we were able to specialise in our chosen age range.

I was prepared, and I had the pedagogic theory to make my teaching meaningful. After all, I'd been doing school placements for four years. I know experienced teachers who have been doing this job for years, and they agree - the course is a far better preparation for a primary school teacher.

Sophia Bryan is in her third year teaching Year 6 at Stockwell primary school in south London

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