Gillian is a part-time student studying for the MSC in Mathematics Teacher Education. She is employed full-time as a specialist maths leader in the largest primary school in the UK. Before coming to the department Gillian also completed her BA (Hons) Business Studies at Leeds Polytechnic and PGCE Primary at Oxford Brookes.

What degree did you apply for and why was it important to you to study this?

MSc Mathematics Teacher Education. I work with colleagues in my school to promote excellence in maths teaching. My PGCE and work experience have trained me to teach children not adults; I want to provide the best possible support to my colleagues which is why this degree is important to me.

What strategies do you use to balance your studies with your other commitments?

I ring-fence two evenings for study (one for a Skype seminar with my study group and one for independent study) so I can complete the work for the week in half a day at the weekend.

How does the programme support and engage you as a distance learning student?

The induction week where we all came together was invaluable as it enabled everyone on the course to get to know each other and start to build relationships.  The resources on WebLearn are very comprehensive – I know exactly what I need to do in each week of the term and so can plan ahead round busy times at school and family commitments.

What advantages are there to being a distance learning student?

Being a distance learning student enables me to fit my learning around my day job and family life.  I was able to choose the course which would best support me in my work and not worry about how far away from home the university is.  The induction week in Oxford was a great opportunity to interact with other students on the course – now that we’ve got to know each other, we can continue to communicate and share experiences over social media and Skype.

What do you most value about the teaching at the department?

The careful thought which has been put into the course design and supporting resources; the way in which, during our induction week, we were equipped with the skills and knowledge we need to be successful in studying for the distance learning modules; the way the teaching exemplified best practice in teaching.

Why do you think it’s important to study education?

In my experience, many things are done in schools because it’s the way things have always been done, not because it reflects best practice or current research.  When teachers are under so much pressure, it’s important they spend their time as effectively as possible so that their efforts have the maximum impact on their students’ learning. We need ways share new thinking and best practice – studying education is an excellent way to do this. As educators, it’s important that we model to our pupils that there is always more to learn.

What do plan to do once you’ve completed your degree?

I’m waiting to see what opportunities open up as a result of taking the course, but Ihope to continue in working with teachers to improve primary pupils’ experience in maths lessons.