School of Education

School Direct Primary Student Profiles

Danielle Wood Wallace

Danielle Wood-Wallace

School Direct Primary 2015/16

Prior to starting the School Direct Primary course at the University of Nottingham, I had completed my undergraduate degree in linguistics and media and masters (by research) in linguistics.

I worked for a few years in a secondary school as a Class Cover Supervisor, but since 2014 I had mainly completed work around copywriting and digital content management.

I have always had a real passion for learning and felt a sense of accomplishment every time I helped peers or friends with their work. They always fed back to me that I explained concepts and ideas easily and that I'd make a good teacher. Although it was always on my career plan, I never had to opportunity to make the move back into education, and to gain a qualification that would allow me to move forward into a career in teaching.

That was until Transform Teaching School Alliance and one of the lecturers at the University of Nottingham informed me of the course and the ways I could get into teaching. I was overwhelmed by support and encouragement and managed to get onto the course before it started in September.


The course is the perfect balance between work and education, allowing you to gain skills and expertise picked up from the university sessions in school four days a week, while also providing you with time to reflect, learn and share your experiences with peers on a Friday during the university sessions.

The sessions at university coincide with what you are learning and putting into practice within the school environment, and allow you to move forward in the steps to becoming a competent teacher. There are also a number of additional optional sessions that the University provide such as 'Working with children with SEN' that give you an unique insight into supporting children in a range of contexts.

The collaborative groups each Friday allowed you to share your experiences of the school week, seek advice, raise specific queries and share tips that you had found useful. It also allowed for discussion around current debates, beliefs and ideas surrounding education and provided time for consideration and reflection in response to new learning.

For me, the course has provided the key to my career, it has prepared me well for planning and working in the classroom environment and supported me to become a better teacher. It has also supplied me with a network of peers and extremely knowledgeable professionals to bounce ideas off, share encounters and seek advice where needed.

I have now begun my NQT year at Rosslyn Park Primary and Nursery School in Nottingham, the school in which I completing my training year, and am looking forward to my career as a primary school teacher.


Tom Brassington

Tom Brassington

School Direct Primary 2015/16

The course is structured to ensure that you don't feel overwhelmed. It is orchestrated by a group of extremely supportive and knowledgeable professionals who have all had previous classroom experience. Their bank of previous work and research proved a valuable resource as I studied.

In my opinion, the primary appeal of the School Direct route is the chance to spend four days a week working in a good school. This opportunity allowed me to fully understand the role of the teacher and instilled in me a positive work ethic as I look forward in my career.

Both the school and University offered supportive and useful opportunities to develop professionally and I was able to gain a plethora of experience in many different areas of the curriculum and age groups.


The collaborative groups each Friday provided a chance to reflect on the week and raise specific personal queries or share positive ideas that have worked well in your practice. It also allowed for discussion on many of our fundamental beliefs on education which, in turn, aided my own understanding of what I think a teacher's priorities should be.

I have now begun my first year as an NQT at Silverhill Primary School in Derby, the school in which I trained. I feel the course has left me prepared to tackle what is a demanding job with a positive and open-minded approach. I have also left with a network of peers with whom I can share and discuss ideas.


Martin Knight

Martin Knight

School Direct Primary 2014/15

I had practised as a criminal barrister for many years prior to retraining as a teacher. I made the decision to change career having spent two years as full-time carer for my daughter while on a career break. A further year spent volunteering at three local primary schools confirmed that I really enjoyed working with children.

I was fortunate enough to have a choice of a place on the University of Nottingham's School Direct course or a place on a university-based PGCE course at a different institution. It was an easy decision to make.

The School Direct course provided the opportunity to spend time in the classroom, working alongside skillful practitioners, four days a week. I was teaching a small group of children in my first week at school and was soon teaching the whole class under the watchful eye of my school mentor, who was able to develop and shape my classroom practice.


What I particularly valued about the course was that it allowed me to spend all but six weeks (when I was on my second placement) at the same school. The real benefit of this was that I had one mentor, not several in different schools, monitoring and appraising my development. This gave me the freedom to make mistakes, to experiment with my own ideas and those of my mentor, without the pressure of knowing that I was going to have to move to another school, on another placement, at the end of a six week placement.

The last day of the week was an opportunity to work alongside my peers and learn from the high-quality lecturers who teach on the course and observe students' teaching. The quality of input from those who teach on the course is outstanding. I was encouraged to develop a reflective practice, something that stood me in great stead as a trainee and continues to do so now as a developing teacher.

I now teach at Westdale Junior School and I am the Maths Subject Leader and accredited to teach the White Rose Maths Hub Singapore Bar Method to other teachers in primary schools.


Sarah Richmond

Sarah Richmond

School Direct Primary 2013/14

Before starting the School Direct Course, I had just completed a PhD in History at the University of Nottingham.

As someone who loves learning, teaching has been a vocation I have always thought of pursuing. However, having two young children of my own convinced me that teaching at primary level suited me more than teaching adults in academia.

I volunteered in an infant and nursery school in Nottingham and loved it so much that I spent a year working as a supply teaching assistant to gain more experience.

The School Direct course really appealed to me because I felt I would gain a direct insight into working in a school, at the same time as being part of a team. I applied and was thrilled to be accepted onto the course.


I was placed in an 'outstanding' inner-city school and it was brilliant to start training on the very first day of the school year. Not only did I join in with the staff inset days, but it also meant I got to observe those important few weeks when children settle into their new classes and what it's really like for the teaching staff and pupils.

The responsibility for teaching increased gradually; I was able to observe outstanding teaching and within school the mentors and class teachers provided invaluable support and advice to help me develop my teaching skills.

Alongside support and training in school, the university training days have covered all areas of teaching from behaviour management and assessment to thinking about how teachers promote social justice in schools. Having a university tutor is another invaluable source of support; tutors visit regularly through the year and have been really helpful with plenty of advice and information on hand for those times when I've been struggling.

The course has been hard work and I've been fortunate enough to meet a set of great fellow trainees who've been there when deadlines are looming to share ideas and offer moral support.

It's an intensive year of training but I have been lucky enough to secure a position at Middleton Primary School in Nottingham. I'm looking forward to starting my new job and I think the course means I feel well prepared to start my NQT year.


James Wood

School Direct Primary 2013/14

Prior to starting the course, I completed my undergraduate degree in product design. While enjoying the course and learning a lot from it, there had always been the thought of becoming a primary school teacher; a desire that continued to grow throughout my degree studies.

This enthusiasm for primary education stemmed from enjoying time spent working with children, in and out of conventional school contexts. Supporting school sports events, church youth groups and teaching English through a TEFL programme are just some of the experiences that led me to feel confident in my ability to build good relationships with children of primary age, and developed my passion for teaching.


When asked why primary and not secondary, there are a number of answers. One of my real passions, however, was the lack of males in the profession and therefore a lack of male role models for many children. As a result, I embarked on the School Direct Primary PGCE course at the University of Nottingham. 

The reason for choosing this course and not one of the other routes into teaching was because of the opportunity it gave to spend a whole year working in a school, whilst being supported by both my school mentor and university tutor. This has given me the opportunity to really understand school life and what goes into the day to day running of a class; something that is necessarily always visible when only staying in a school for a few weeks.

In coming to the end of this course and reflecting on the past year, I have feel that I have developed many of the skills required to be an excellent teacher, as well as becoming comfortable in leading and teaching a class in a range of different subjects.

In choosing the University of Nottingham, I knew I would be receiving outstanding training, something that would benefit me in enabling me to become the best teacher possible, which in turn would benefit the pupils. As a result of the excellent support and advice given through the course it has enabled me to develop as a teacher and be successful in securing my first job at Edna G Olds Academy, the school in which I have trained in this year.

I wholeheartedly recommend the School Direct Primary PGCE course to anyone considering a career in primary school education. I have found the chance to work in a school whilst doing my training invaluable in enabling me to develop as best as possible.





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