Championing diversity and inclusion in teacher education at Manchester
We’ve recently caught up with Kurtis Johnson, a PGCE Secondary Science (Biology) graduate from 2022, who shares his experiences studying at Manchester and how he’s gone on to shape his career following graduation, drawing particular attention to the way PGCE at Manchester champions diversity and inclusion.
On why I chose to study for a PGCE at Manchester
I chose to study for a PGCE at The University of Manchester mainly because of the course opportunities – I was able to experience education at all levels – from Primary to Sixth Form. I appreciated the balance of placement and University sessions, as it allowed me to build long-lasting relationships with my colleagues, tutor, mentors and PGCE cohort.
On my career before teaching
Prior to the PGCE at Manchester, I was finishing off a master’s degree in Biochemistry and working as a support worker to children and adults with learning disabilities. Working with children was very fulfilling to me, and I wanted to experience that fulfilment in an educational setting.
On my current role
I am currently teaching GCSE Biology to all of Year 10 and most of Year 11. Alongside this, I am a Year 10 tutor and project lead for three Year 12 project (EPQ) groups.
The PGCE really helped me to hone my presentation skills and confidence, which definitely comes in handy when talking in front of dozens of students a day! During my first and second placement, I was able to shadow a KS4 tutor – this helped me understand the expectations of a tutor, and contributed to my practice this year, with my own tutor group.
Teacher training gives you a realistic outlook of what teaching is – the PGCE course at Manchester allowed me to understand the roles and responsibilities of a teacher – from professional conduct, to subject knowledge and pastoral care.
On my most surprising takeaway
My ability to present – I had a lot of anxiety regarding presenting at the start of my placement, however by the end, teaching and presenting felt so natural. I also gained lasting relationships with people on my cohort, as well as professional connections.
My advice to prospective trainees
I learned that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, it is so important to give you & your students some grace, and trust in your ability & your practice as a teacher!
Coming into The University of Manchester, I was very aware of my differences between my identity, compared to the rest of my cohort. This crated a lot of pre-conceptions within me, but they were instantly blown away once I started. From my experience, Manchester’s PGCE champions diversity and inclusion, and made me feel comfortable enough to be my authentic self, and use my lived experiences to my advantage.