Bethan Ashton

Current job title: Class teacher

Current location: London

“Studying at Plymouth University has encouraged me to be motivated, determined, and ambitious to succeed.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since graduating, I have secured a job and moved to central London. This is something I would never have dreamed of doing before my experience at Plymouth University. I now work in a prestigious Girls School as a Year 1 teacher.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

My degree has ensured that I have developed and enhanced my understanding of the teaching profession. This has ensured that I have the ability to perform and work as an outstanding teacher. My first class degree has given me the academic rigour required to consider further education with Plymouth University. Moreover, my degree has influenced my confidence and perception of my own ability greatly; before my degree, I would never have pushed myself towards applying for a job in an exceptional school and in a brand new city.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

The vast and expansive demands of teaching and my own personal desire to learn more, improve, and continue to provide outstanding education make it difficult to ‘switch off.’ It is hard to step away from your job that you love, which also carries a great deal of responsibility toward providing outstanding learning opportunities for the girls in my care.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

To directly name the most exciting or fun thing about my job is tricky: each day is different and every day is exciting and fun. The best part about my career is inspiring a love of learning and a hunger for knowledge. However, there is something truly spectacular about influencing a child’s learning and seeing a sparkle in their eyes as they master a skill or discover something new.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

If I were to do university all over again, I would have definitely taken more advantage of the extra opportunities Plymouth University provides outside of course time. The Learning Café really helped me learn how to reflect, be critical, and make improvements to my work which I found extremely useful. During my final year, I made a tremendous effort to attend the extra seminars put on by outsider speakers and some of the events the University held. However, this is something I wish I were motivated to do earlier on within my degree. Moreover, I would have joined the Netball Society in my first year! It really shaped my second and third year at University and allowed me to meet so many amazing people.

If you were just about to graduate again, what would you do differently?

I would not do anything differently. I chose an exciting dissertation topic, put in 110 per cent, obtained a job that seemed out of reach, and made life-long friends. I am proud of the path I took to graduate and the skills my degree gave me to become the person I am today.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

I am still in contact with my headteacher from primary school and during my final placement, when I was looking for a job, he shared these special words with me: ‘Hold on to what you believe in and do what you believe to be right.’ Always go in headstrong and remember exactly why you chose your career path. Prioritise, keep lists, take risks, be bold and adventurous, but most importantly do what feels right. The unique memories and experiences you gain from this career definitely outweigh the stress or the occasional bad day you experience within the teaching profession. I am so lucky to be doing a job that I love in an incredible school.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth University has encouraged me to be motivated, determined, and ambitious to succeed. It has enthused me to realise nothing is impossible if you have the right mind-set. Moreover, it has also taught me to be incredibly independent and to trust instinct.  

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

My course taught me to be critical, determined, and passionate about my career. There are outstanding lecturers employed at Plymouth University who aim to support your desire to succeed. The skill of critical thinking is something I use and apply not only as part of my teaching but also in everyday life, meaning that I am always aiming to better myself.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

My placement allowed praxis and the opportunity to implement the theories and knowledge I had gained through interactive lectures and academic literature. Placement experiences ensured that I received a well-rounded understanding of all elements of teaching. Alongside this, it gave me the opportunity to observe and learn from outstanding practitioners, thus inspiring me to be the teacher I am today.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

My favourite memory of studying at Plymouth University has to be the learning atmosphere and ethos it creates. In one of my very first seminars a lecturer told us that ‘gaining a degree is not a competition’ and that we will all get one. This really ensured that every course member I met was willing to support, help, and listen to you.

Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?

I am still in contact with my Music specialist teacher and have also been in contact with other lecturers about the upcoming NQT INSET day they have arranged.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with University of Plymouth, and why?

I would definitely recommend a degree at University of Plymouth to anyone and everyone. Plymouth is an amazing city and the support and opportunities the University provides is extensive.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Find out what support you can get to improve and better yourself. The Learning Café helped me to develop my criticality and to not just accept that I had hit the word count for the essay I was writing. There is always room for improvement, so find out where to go and who to see. If in doubt, ask; ask your tutor, ask your lecturer. Everyone at University of Plymouth is happy to help.

Circle of marakas - Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at