Annabel Brown: learning to teach

Annabel tells us about the wide range of experience she gained studying BEd (Hons) Primary (Early Childhood Studies)

"My degree gave me a wide range of experiences in varying age ranges and types of schools so I feel really well equipped to work in a range of settings."

Annabel Brown

Annabel Brown graduated from BEd (Hons) Primary (Early Childhood Studies) in 2016 and now works as a Year R teacher at The Crescent Primary School in Hampshire.

This is Annabel's story

My teaching career

"I started my teaching career as a reception class teacher in a primary school in Winchester, then after completing my NQT I moved to a new school where I am again teaching in reception.

Taking on the role as a subject leader is something I was always nervous about doing, and since completing my NQT year I have been assigned to the Art and DT team in my school. I have had to lead staff meetings, monitor progress of the subject throughout the school and find new ways to improve the teaching of Art and DT across the school. This has been a challenge but having the support of a great team to work with has made it a lot easier. Never be scared to ask for help, whether that's from your TA, year leader, or just another member of staff in the school. There is nothing worse than trying to complete a task when you’re not 100 per cent sure whether you’re doing it correctly!

Studying at Plymouth gave me a wide range of experiences in a variety of schools and settings that has since helped me in my own teaching career. Working closely with experienced lecturers in seminars and workshops built my knowledge and confidence, not just as a class teacher but also as a team player, and more recently a leader, when taking on a subject coordinator role in my school.

I learnt to trust my own instinct in a classroom setting, and as my confidence built throughout my course I was able to take more risks in my teaching which had better outcomes for both myself and the children.

I undertook multiple placements in Plymouth and also further afield in Cornwall and other areas of Devon. These ranged from large inner city schools, to small rural schools. 

This enabled me to gain experience of working in large teams; building my teamwork and communication skills, and working in single year group schools; building my independence and decision making skills. 

Having a lecturer or mentor from the University come and visit me regularly whilst on teaching practice meant they were aware of my strengths and areas for improvement, so we could work on these during lectures and seminars after finishing the teaching practice."

Choosing Plymouth

"Plymouth is an amazing place to be a student. There is always so much going on at the University, but also in the city itself. 

You can’t talk about Plymouth without mentioning The Hoe and Barbican. I spent many weekends down there during the summer months with friends, sunbathing listening to music, playing games. It’s one of the best things about Plymouth. 

The wide range of clubs and societies run at Plymouth were always fun and I would always recommend signing up to some in your first year – it doesn’t matter if you don’t stick to them, it’s just a great way to socialise with different people from those on your course or in your halls.

I joined the ukulele society, the baking society and the swimming team and I am still in contact with some people from these clubs even now.

Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, which was especially nice at the beginning of my university experience and why I initially fell in love with Plymouth. I cannot recommend it enough." 

"I am in touch with alumni who were on my course as well as others from the various clubs and societies I was part of. Keeping in contact with other alumni from my course has been vital in my first few years teaching as we are able to share our experiences, ideas and ask for help when we need it.

I am also in contact with my Early Childhood Studies lecturer who has since helped me get my dissertation published in The Plymouth Student Educator. That was a huge achievement for me and something I am immensely proud of and thankful to the University for giving me the opportunity. I have also been in contact with other lecturers from my course who have wanted to know when and where I secured my first teaching post, and any changes since."

Read Annabel's final year research project

Annabel Brown

Becoming a teacher – Annabel's advice:

"Get experience! Volunteer at your local primary school in different year groups and see what suits you. Also, keep in contact with any schools or teachers you know – it’s always good to have contacts in schools, whether that’s for future placements or even a job later on."

Follow in Annabel's footsteps

Border crayon by Zoonar RF, courtesy of Getty

Set yourself up for a successful career in early years education

Develop the professional skills you’ll need to teach in schools and other settings in this sector. Shaped by our own research expertise, this course supports you in the study of different forms of education for children from three to seven years old. Examine the development of children’s communication and relationships and gain an in-depth understanding and practical experience of how young children think, develop and learn.