Current employer: Skills Group UK
Current job title: Physical Education and School Sport Lead Tutor
Current location: Plymouth
“I would strongly advocate University of Plymouth to any prospective undergraduate as an institution that will give you far more than an education: it will give you an experience you will never forget.”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.
Since graduating in 2006, I have worked towards achieving my teaching and assessment qualifications and have (over time) managed to amalgamate my passion for sport with my experiences from the education sector. I now work for Skills Group UK as the lead tutor on a range of qualifications. Supporting the next generation of aspiring teachers is something I find highly rewarding and it is great to be able to pass on my coaching knowledge and experience to others.
Has your career path changed since graduation?
Absolutely. I initially went into a sports-based role (which has always been where my heart is) but after returning to the UK from working overseas as a Principal Football Coach, I was successful in securing the post of Prince's Trust Training Officer at City College Plymouth. This role was more education-based, working with sixteen to twenty-four year olds, some of whom had significant barriers including substance misuse, mental health, and behavioural difficulties. I now also run my own first aid training and sports coaching business via Plymouth and Cornwall Training. I have recently also taken on the role of QTLS Reviewer with the Education and Training Foundation (Society for Education and Training), supporting the conferral of QTLS to qualified teachers working across the Further Education sector.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
One of the hardest elements of any coaching or education role is developing your own repertoire of behavioural management skills. I feel I have been lucky enough to learn from great role models who have taught me how to engage the unenthused and how to motivate the uninspired.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
Since completing my BSc (Hons) Sports Management degree, I have been fortunate enough to secure a role working for David Howells Soccer Schools in Corfu. This role involved the day to day management of an overseas football academy, and really helped me to put the theory from my degree into practice. Whilst this role was incredibly enjoyable (and acted as the perfect excuse to work on my tan during working hours), it was seasonal and meant that I was only employed from May to October.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
I have always wanted to gain more teaching experience across the primary age ranges; and whilst I have obtained some teaching experience at Montpelier Primary School, it is something of which I would love to do more. I have always been fascinated with how we develop, in terms of our social, cognitive, and physical development, and so would relish the opportunity to further my experiences across the key stage 1 and 2 age ranges in the future.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
It is really hard nowadays to secure a PE-based role, as there are so few vacancies around. My advice would undoubtedly be to undertake a BEd teacher training course, but also to try and focus on a second subject, as this is likely to be your 'foot in the door'. Most employers love having multi-skilled staff, so this way you can work your way into physical education roles, rather than starting off in one. This way you will also develop those key behavioural management skills and techniques that are so important to be able to deliver a high quality lesson.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
Studying at Plymouth really helped me to build a good network of links with key employers and organisations in the local community. These have really helped me in my career development and have resulted in being offered the opportunity to run weekly squash coaching sessions at Plymouth Life Centre and the 'Give It A Go' session at University of Plymouth on Monday evenings from 6pm to 7.30pm. Plymouth has a really proactive community of sporting links, from Plymouth City Council's Sports Development Unit to that of Louise Francis and Jo McAulay at the University, and I would just like to express my sincere thanks to all these individuals for their support.
What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
One of my favourite memories has to be the sea. I fell in love with the coast at Plymouth and missed it so much that, after leaving the University, I moved back down so that I could call Plymouth home. It is great having a campus in the middle of this beautiful city and I am still amazed to find new parts of the coastline to explore even now.
Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?
I made some lifelong friends whilst studying at University of Plymouth, and last year attended the wedding of the last of my friends to be married off. I have been privileged to have been the best man to two of my closet friends, and I still catch up with old alumni regularly. Most have now moved to different parts of the UK and have started their own families; however, it is still great to get them all back to Plymouth from time to time in order to re-live our younger days.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with University of Plymouth, and why?
Without question the city is one of the most breath-taking places anywhere that I have been, and the University has some truly exceptional staff. I still reflect upon my degree as being some of the best years of my life, having met some amazing people along the way. I would strongly advocate University of Plymouth to any prospective undergraduate as an institution that will give you far more than an education: it will give you an experience you will never forget.