Martha Boyne

Since completing her BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science at the University of Plymouth, Martha has gone on to complete a PGCE Secondary Science at the University of Chichester, completed her NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher), as well as a masters degree. She is now working as a teacher in Sussex and starts her PhD in Education in September at the University of Chichester.

This is Martha's story...

“Don't just survive, thrive!”

Thrive Cover
Thrive in your first years of teaching – Martha Boyne, Emily Clements, Ben Wright – Crown House Publishing (2018)

I’ve had the opportunity to write a book to support other new teachers in the profession. This all came about by working closely with two colleagues in my first school. We started as NQTs together and got on really well. We were able to support each other through our tough first few years and wanted to share our knowledge with other NQT teachers. We were given the name of a publishing company and contacted them about writing a book. 

We worked collaboratively to write it. We would brainstorm each chapter and discover which topics each of us was most confident in and write to our strengths. We would regularly meet to read each other’s work to discuss and add topics we’d been missed. It was a long process but having two co-authors really helped. We finished the book in August 2017 and spent nearly eight months working with proofreaders and editors. Our first proofread came back with six-hundred comments and we had only two-weeks to rework the text. Finally, after two years of working on it, the book has now been published.

We’ve had some really positive feedback, including reviews from Teacher Toolkit and UKEdChat and our book is now on the reading list for a few universities. To be recognised by people on that level, who communicate with, and train, educators across the country has been an amazing experience.

Plymouth Sound - Foreshore looking out to sea

Why the University of Plymouth...

I am from Cornwall and wanted to stay by the coast so this was really important for me. Plymouth is also a campus university which really appealed and I liked being in the city centre as everything was in one place. The city is vibrant and the University is really supportive. You get a really good education with staff who want to support you as well as being able to enjoy all the fun of a student life.

Changing aspirations...

Although I really enjoyed my course at the University of Plymouth, I realised I didn’t want to work in a lab as a biomedical scientist during my second year. Although I enjoyed working in the science labs, I found it a bit lonely. I realised I wanted to be challenged by people and not a petri dish. I don’t mean this in a negative way, I enjoyed my degree, but I realised I wasn’t suited to the lab-based way of working. I decided to attend some of the postgraduate events at the University and stumbled upon teaching. Now, after completing my PGCE, I meet hundreds of different students and really enjoy it. 

During the third year of the course, there is a module called Personal Development and Employability where assignments are based around where you would like to take your career. I focussed this module on how best to use my degree to prepare me for a career in education. This really helped because it gave me a chance to reflect on what I had learned during the course and think critically about how I was going to use those skills in the future. The supportive and approachable staff enabled me to think beyond the science degree to how I could utilise my learning into graduate employment.

Clearing kept me on the right track

I messed up my A levels and didn’t get the grades I should have got. This left me in a position of what do I do, where do I go, what happens now?

I did not originally intend to study at Plymouth, but personal circumstances meant I changed my mind at the last minute. By this point my UCAS application had already been sent off, so I already anticipated even before I knew my results I would need to go through Clearing with Plymouth to stay in the local area. But in the end, everything worked out well for me.

I was already aware of Clearing as my mother is a lecturer at Plymouth, so after looking on the website to search for courses that would accept my grades, I called the Clearing hotline and explained my situation, exactly where I wanted to get to and what I wanted to have at the end of my time with Plymouth. 

My plan was to still study BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science and there was an opportunity for me to take a foundation year which would still allow me to follow my chosen route.

I got put in touch with the course leader before I accepted the place, which was really good. You read about courses online and when you apply you go through an interview process, but through Clearing you don’t necessarily get to have this opportunity to ask the extra questions. That was really important to me, to find out the information and confirm that it would get me to my end goal, even though I took a different route to get there.

As a secondary school teacher, I now do say to my A level students to stay calm and always have a list of questions to ask. It helps to handle any panic you may feel – 'my friends have all got their grades, what am I going to do? I must get on a course!' If you have a prewritten list of questions you can still check even though you are going through Clearing it is the right course for you.

Going through Clearing empowered me to get me where I needed to be, without having to wait another year. Enrolling on the foundation course allowed me to progress in the right direction and opened doors for postgraduate studies. I’ve since completed my PGCE to be a teacher, which enabled me to go on to my masters, which has now allowed me to start my PhD this September. Without going through Clearing I may never have been in this situation.

Researcher looking down a microscope in a laboratory