James Shaw (PGCE Mathematics)(video)

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Tell us something about what you were doing before you came to Oxford

I studied mathematics and education at Homerton College, Cambridge. I spent an internship in the city which I found quite boring and I also did the Student Associate Scheme in a challenging school which I really enjoyed. It is a small-scale PGCE as you can get funding and you work with mentors and teachers, so I knew that teaching was the career for me.

What do you like most about studying in the Department of Education ?

I have enjoyed meeting like-minded students who are inspired to be the best teacher they can be. They ask the most interesting questions and are excited about inspiring their students in schools.

I liked the idea of studying at Oxford and the college life aspect. You have a little free time and it has been good to meet students on other courses, such as PhDs.

What attracted you to the programme of study here?

One of the main ideas on this course is the philosophy to link the University sessions with the reality of daily life in school. I had also heard about Professor Anne Watson’s mathematical research and ideas.
Part of the course provides you with the concepts and skills for research, known as action research, which you apply during your assignments and you can then go on to develop these ideas.

What qualities do you think an Education student at Oxford needs to have in order to be successful?

Time management for sure! The ability to look on the bright side and try to see the positives. It is a challenging course here and you need to want to be challenged. I knew that the course was going to be hard, but I wanted to be the best teacher I could be. You will get tired and still need to try your best.

If you are a PGCE student, how has your course influenced your thinking about teaching?

On my first school placement I was able to work alongside an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) and it was great to see the theory of education being transferred from books and policy into good practice in the school.

It has been really interesting to study some of the options that are available, such as “Education in Developing Countries” which has given me an insight into a far wider range of school systems, even though I had already spent time in schools in Vietnam.

We hope that you would recommend the Department of Education as a place to come and study. What reasons would you give for this?

You are able to work with tutors who are the leaders in their field. The students here are highly motivated to ask challenging questions and develop their own ideas.

What are your career ambitions after you complete the course?

I am going to teach at Treviglas Community College in Newquay and I hope to become the best teacher I can (to be an AST), and also to spend a bit of time surfing! I would like to build on my skills and to teach in more challenging schools in the future. I am also interested in research options studying for a PhD in Education.

If I knew before I started the course what I know now, I would….

Catch up on sleep!

I would strongly recommend getting plenty of school experience and you need to have a very good level of subject knowledge before the course starts.

Please add anything else you would like to say

There are also good pubs here and being close to London you can escape in your time off.

I have also started Kickboxing which is a new sport to me and I would previously never have thought about trying it!

Page last modified: July 24, 2012

Programme of study


PGCE Mathematics