Sophie Shaw, Plymouth Pioneers
  • Carrying the torch for teaching in a family of educators
  • Passionately promoting the magic in mathematics
  • From the Royal Albert Hall – an All England Dance champion
  • Full of spirit and part of the University cheerleading team

Inspiring the next generation

Sophie Shaw

1. Who are you? And what is your passion?

A passion for teaching has stemmed from my family’s background. My dad teaches mathematics in China, while my brother and sister-in-law are both primary teachers in the UK.
I want to inspire, motivate and encourage children, to stimulate their imagination and to learn from them, as they will learn from me.
Teaching is a rewarding career and my aim is to become a strong female role model for the next generation. It is extremely important every student is treated as an individual, and I want to help children grow into well-rounded young people. 
I believe teachers lay the foundations for children on which future careers are built, and I'm confident I possess the capability to be an excellent educator. 
My dad has always been very enthusiastic, caring, and humble about his job. His support for me, and his passion for the profession, plus his love of mathematics, has definitely rubbed off on me.
I’ve always loved maths because of the challenge. It’s a puzzle. And once you’ve cracked it, it's magic. 

I am eager to complete my final year of studies and begin my career as a fully qualified teacher.

Open exercise book with coloured plastic number rods on white background.

2. How does Plymouth lead the way in primary education? 

Primary education allows me to study a broad range of subjects, from core subjects, such as English and maths, to the broader curriculum, which includes physical education and art.
I chose Plymouth to specialise in a subject, because not many universities offered the opportunity to focus on maths.
In addition to gaining a teaching degree, specialising in mathematics will enhance my employability skills for the future.
Another great benefit of my course is the opportunity to gain first-hand experience through placement, providing me with a range of skills including time management of lessons and differentiation.
I have experienced placements in a range of schools and have taught both Key Stage 1 and 2. This has enhanced my ability to teach a wide range of students in the future because I am confident with the curriculum in all year groups.

3. What is a fear you’d like to conquer? 

I have no fears going into teaching, because Plymouth has fully equipped me with the skills and competencies I require for a teaching position.
Despite being slightly nervous beginning my university journey, two years down the line, I feel excited and confident about the prospect of becoming a fully qualified teacher.
This has been because of great support from lecturers throughout my course, who have always been on hand to assist me when needed.
Colourful wooden cars and cubes on green colour background.
Students play with counting cubes at school.
Wooden cubes with numbers and colourful toy bricks on a turquoise wooden background.

4. How do you respond when faced with a problem?

With young children, just as with adults, communication is always key.

As a teacher, or in my home life, I deal with a problem straight away. Resolving an issue before it gets too big and uncontrollable.

Unfortunately, not every child has a positive role model at home, or someone to talk to when they really need to.

I want to be a positive role model in the classroom for our next generation of learners, to help prepare them for a future of solving problems.

After a few years in the UK, I would love to follow in my dad’s footsteps and have a teaching adventure abroad. After years of working as a deputy head teacher in Devon, he now thoroughly enjoys being a deputy head teacher in an international boarding school in China.

Travelling has always been an interest of mine, so to be able to combine a career with living a different lifestyle would be a wonderful experience. I am up for the challenge of teaching in different countries and learning about different cultures and communities.

Every new experience helps you grow as an individual, and as a teacher, too. This means you become more experienced, more empathetic, and prepared to do your best for the children in your class, wherever you are in the world.

5. What do you know of that you believe could really change our world for the better?

Anything that brings people together, which is joyful and positive, and builds self-esteem. This is especially important for children, who we need to nurture to become caring, curious, and courageous individuals.

For me, my love of dance has brought me a lot of joy and helped shaped me to be an optimistic and passionate adult. I have performed at the Royal Albert Hall and been a modern and tap champion in the All England Dance national finals – I’m so proud to have won so many trophies.

Dancing since the age of four has given me so much confidence. My dream is to have an after-school club and transfer this to my teaching – using the power of dance to build a child’s confidence and mental health.

Years of dancing has taught me the importance of discipline, hard work, and self-motivation. I've brought this to Plymouth, and it will follow me into my classroom.

As I balance dance with my study, I continue to develop great friendships. I'm part of the University cheerleading team, finishing 2nd and 3rd in competitions in the Birmingham Arena and the Olympic Park in London.

It would be wonderful for my pupils to discover their own passion to complement their learning.

Sophie Shaw in tap shoes.
Boys and girls studying contemporary dance.
Sophie Shaw, Plymouth Pioneer

6. What do you want the world to look like in 10 years?

I want teachers to continue to have the opportunity to do what they are best at: to teach and inspire children.
Any developments in funding and technology needs to support and keep teachers in the classroom. We need to ensure we have adequate resources for every child – from teaching materials to teaching assistants. Every child should have the best possible opportunity to learn and the platform to reach their full potential. 
Whether aspiring to be a maths teacher or a professional dancer, a positive school experience is imperative.

7. If you had the chance to share one message to the whole world, what would it be?

My message would be for individuals to be kind to one another. Part of this can be achieved by caring and educating our children to become considerate, inquisitive, and well-rounded adults.
This message only reinforces why teaching will always be such an important vocation. 
Teachers can make a real difference to every child’s life.

Influence our future. Teach the next generation

Prepare for a successful and rewarding career in primary teaching, and embark on a teaching career straight after your studies. 

Building on long established partnerships, gain ample opportunities to learn with experienced practitioners. 

Straight away you will work in a range of schools, building up confidence and expertise.

Study primary education at Plymouth

Primary School Child

What would your answers be?