School of Education

History Student Profiles

Elliot Davies-Tagg

PGCE History 2014/15

Studying history at A level engendered in me the desire to become a history teacher. History taught me to analyse the world around me, to construct and develop my own arguments and to communicate my passion for the subject; all of which a successful history teacher must accomplish in the classroom.

Completing my BA in English studies and history at the University of Nottingham consolidated my desire to become a history teacher and to pass on my subject knowledge to similarly inquisitive students.

During my undergraduate studies I successfully completed a placement at the University's Manuscript and Special Collections department and volunteered at a local museum. Both experiences, whilst highly rewarding, led me to continue pursuing a career in teaching history. After reading about the secondary history course in-depth, I realised that gaining a high level of experience in a secondary school would be essential.


After graduating I found employment as a Teaching Assistant at a local secondary school. I found this experience essential for starting to develop my understanding of pedagogy and to develop positive relationships with a wide range of pupils from different backgrounds and educational needs. Working in a school also gave me the opportunity to observe a plethora of teaching personas; all of which have been beneficial in successfully obtaining a place on and completing the PGCE.

The course has a good balance between theory and practice, supported by expert tutors. University hours are always a rewarding experience and contact time consistently benefits your understanding of the classroom environment as well as aiding you to develop and refine your own personal philosophy on history teaching.

The course is also assessed with the primary aim of enabling you to reflect on your teaching practice and successful completion of the masters level written assessments which provides you with credits towards an MA Education, which I have the intention to complete in the near future.

The PGCE year has prepared me for my future career and, despite having a shy demeanour, I have always felt supported in developing my teaching practice around my own personality and have developed the confidence to tackle any issues that I may face in my career. In addition to the support provided by the tutors and mentors at school, there is a sense of being part of a community of like-minded individuals with a passion for history and a desire to communicate this to pupils.

Overall the course has equipped me with the skills to be a reflective history teacher with the ability to continue to critique and develop my own practice. I have been successful in finding employment at a school where I have been given the opportunity to teach history from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5.

If you are currently completing a history degree and considering a career in teaching, consider the secondary history course at Nottingham. It will prepare you for a career that offers challenge, is constantly evolving and will show you how to share your genuine passion and love for history with the next generation of potential historians.


Emily Bexson

Emily Bexson

PGCE History 2014/15

Since the tender age of 11, I have wanted to become a teacher due to the inspiration of my own incredible history teachers. Their infectious enthusiasm for the subject and ability to bring history alive, whether by patrolling around the classroom pretending to be Henry VIII or simply telling a 'story' in an almost hypnotic fashion, ensured that ever since I have been committed to achieving this goal. I will be forever indebted to the outstanding PGCE course at the University of Nottingham for helping me to do so.

I was instantly attracted to the PGCE offered at the University of Nottingham due to its outstanding reputation, both in terms of the university itself and also their approach to teacher training.


It was evident from the outset that the course was incredibly well-organised, with university sessions carefully thought out, planned and delivered. Just as you feel you need to re-ignite your ideas, recharge your energy and converse with those that are going through the same experience, a well-timed university session will come to the rescue.

On the history PGCE, we were extremely fortunate to be guided by very supportive tutors with extensive knowledge of both history and teaching. Significantly, it was clear throughout the year that they were not only concerned with our professional development but also our mentality and wellbeing, to ensure that we overcame the more challenging aspects of the course and completed it with the same positive attitude that we started with.

One of the best features of the course is the way it is structured, avoiding the potential 'sink or swim' approach of other teacher training routes to ensure a holistic and progressive development in which trainees develop at their own pace. Both my mentors in school and my university tutor were very skilled in recognising my strengths and areas for development, helping me to move forward in a way that was relevant to my independent experience.

The transition between my first school placement (School Experience) and my second (Teaching Practice) was excellent. The University ensures there is communication between your first and second mentors to aid with transition to a more intensive and rigorous teaching timetable. Your mentor in school will become an invaluable asset to your professional development, helping you to reflect on your teaching, to advise on new challenges and ultimately to enable you to be the best you can be.

Though challenging, nothing beats the feeling of completing your PGCE course and taking the time to reflect on the amazing year you just had. There will be bumps in the road. There will even be days where you may doubt yourself. Trust in the fact that everybody goes through this and that is one of the best features of a are not alone!

My advice to anybody embarking on this course is to talk to people throughout the year that are going through the same thing. Teaching is a journey, but not one travelled solo. The University and your course tutors do not consider their job to be done on the last day of your PGCE. They will continue to provide support into your NQT year and are keen to maintain contact with previous students.

So, take the plunge, challenge yourself, be creative, make new friends, establish yourself professionally but ultimately, enjoy it. I cannot recommend this course highly enough and I wish you all the very best in your journey to becoming a teacher. It truly is the best job in the world.


Camilla Evans

Camilla Evans

PGCE History 2013/14

Coming from a family of teachers from whom I learned a great deal throughout my childhood, I never had much doubt that I would follow in the family footsteps and pursue a career in teaching.

Throughout primary and secondary school I felt sure I would become a primary teacher, but when I reached the sixth form and began building closer relationships with teachers and really developed a passion for academic history thanks to my A level teachers, I decided that secondary education was the path for me.


I began applying to PGCE courses and, after interviews at two universities, accepted a place to study at the University of Nottingham. I was won over on the interview day by the wise and inspirational Gary Mills, who has been an outstanding tutor both in terms of expertise (historical and educational) and personal support throughout the year.

The PGCE course is well-structured, and eases you into teaching without being too overwhelming. The first placement gives you a taste of teaching, and builds up the stamina and initial expertise required for teaching practice!

After Christmas, teaching practice begins at a different, and usually contrasting, placement school, offering both a new experience to open your eyes to the different types of school available, and also to give you the opportunity to start afresh with the knowledge and experience gained during the school experience placement.

The course begins with a few weeks of invaluable, enjoyable and academically rigorous training at university, and follow-up weeks and days at university are scattered strategically throughout the rest of the year.

I have been offered a job at a school in south-east London, and am very excited to be starting there. My school mentors and personal tutor were incredibly supportive when it came to interview preparation and references, and this alongside Nottingham's reputation and the high-quality education it provides for its students stood me in good stead to get a job at a school ticking off everything on my wishlist.

The course is incredibly comprehensive, and I feel well-prepared for the world of teaching beyond the PGCE, having been taught for the future and how to progress throughout my career as much as how to get by day-to-day. It has definitely been the toughest year of my life, but undoubtedly also the most rewarding.

Teaching is by no means for the faint-hearted, but those willing to take on the challenge and throw themselves into a world of children - often the toughest of clients - will be thoroughly rewarded. In terms of high-quality teaching, enjoyment and support, I couldn't have asked for more. I cannot recommend the course highly enough.


Lucy Colley

PGCE History 2012/13

After recognising my passion for history from a very young age, it was clear to me there was only one career I wanted to pursue - a career which would involve early mornings, report writing, copious amounts of marking...but with huge rewards and the opportunity to teach a subject I loved!

After proudly presenting my parents with my decision, I set out to achieve my dream in any way possible. After completing a short work experience and four-week voluntary placement at a local primary school, I was convinced I wanted to become a primary school teacher.

Whilst at sixth form, I was persuaded to shadow a secondary school teacher as part a work experience programme. It was at this point where I started to seriously consider a career in secondary school education. However, with university applications looming in the distance, there was one thing that I knew for sure, my passion for history. 


With this decision clear in my mind, I studied history at Sheffield Hallam University and completed the course with a first class honours degree. Throughout my degree I continued to volunteer at my local secondary school for one day a week. This experience was vital and confirmed my desire to become a secondary school history teacher.

After researching the PGCE course at Nottingham, I decided that it was the right course for me. The PGCE course at Nottingham provides a really good balance between time in university, and time in school. You never feel as though you're alone and the support from my tutors gave me so much confidence within the classroom. You gradually increase the workload and the time you spend in school and the combination of theoretical understanding and practical teaching techniques helped me to develop my own unique teaching style and once in school I quickly started to plan and teach my own lessons - it was a great feeling knowing I was finally doing what I had worked so hard for.

The PGCE course consists of two teaching placements; this allows you to decide what sort of school you are best suited to and to develop your teaching style by working alongside your mentors and other professionals.

For my full-time teaching practice I worked at Allestree Woodlands School in Derby. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the school and despite the stress and worry of job applications when a job became available at the school, I felt well supported and I knew it was the right place for me. 

I was successful in my application and without the fantastic support of the University, my tutors and my mentors in school, I wouldn't have been as successful or as happy as I have been over the past year!





School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

Contact us