United Teaching Blog


Case Study: Constance McKinney


Winner of our Primary NQT of the Year Award, and KS1 Lead at Wilberforce Primary, read about how Constance's career has developed as a United Teaching graduate:

Although I always knew I wanted to be a teacher I decided to continue my passion for studying languages at the University of Birmingham before beginning my teacher training. Whilst at university I made sure I got lots of experience working in school environments; I volunteered at primary schools and was a mentor at a local secondary school. For two summers previous to graduating I worked at Wilberforce Primary as a TA. After graduating in 2015 I started training to be a teacher as part of the United Teaching scheme. During my training year I was a Year 2 teacher at Wilberforce Primary. I have since taught a mixed year group (Year 1 and 2) and this year I am teaching Year 2 as well as beginning my role as KS1 Lead.

I really enjoyed my brief stints at Wilberforce due to the wonderful children and staff, and it is for this reason I was really happy to hear that I could carry out my training year at the school. I was particularly interested in the United Teaching training scheme due to the fact I could ‘learn on the job’ and get straight into the classroom!

Wilberforce Primary has been on a journey while I have been there. However, although the situation of the school has sometimes been challenging, I feel the school has still allowed me to progress in my teaching. I completed my training year with an Outstanding grading and I believe my mentor and colleagues supported me greatly in achieving this. The weekly training sessions from United Learning at Paddington Academy were also very useful in improving my classroom practice.

During my NQT Year I was able to visit other United Learning schools and share good practice with other teachers. I led the School Council and organised many school-wide charity events, including sending winter shoe boxes to Syria which was very successful. Following consistently good NQT reports I was thrilled to win NQT of the Year at United Learning’s Primary Best in Everyone Awards – a highlight of my career so far! Another highlight was being able to contribute to the good progress in outcomes for pupils in KS1 at the end of the academic year.

This year I have been promoted to KS1 Lead. I am extremely proud to have been offered this position so early on in my teaching career. I feel much supported by my school which gives me confidence I will be able to make a positive difference to the children in the school. As KS1 lead I am accountable for co-ordinating the teaching and learning of pupils in KS1. A major responsibility is to improve pupil outcomes by rapidly addressing any underperformance. It is also imperative that I am a role model for positive behaviour management and that I support staff with behaviour management.  I am really looking forward to improving my leadership skills by taking on this role.

At the moment my priority is excelling in my new position as KS1 lead and contributing positively to the schools journey and the children’s learning. I look forward to developing my ability as a Leader and seeing where this could take me. I believe no matter what other roles I take on throughout my career in education I will always see myself as first and foremost a teacher. I absolutely adore being a class teacher. I love being able to teach a broad and exciting curriculum to the children and engaging them in new learning. It is always my aim to have children enter my classroom with a sense of awe and wonder about what they are going to learn. I enjoy seeing children progress in their learning and with the support of their teachers overcome challenges and barriers in their learning.

The best part of working at my school is the sense of being part of a ‘team’. Even though everyone is so busy we all manage to support each other and make each other’s day that bit easier. My colleagues all share the same passion for improving the children’s school experience and giving them the education they deserve. The best part of working at United Learning is the way that schools support each other. I enjoy sharing ideas and resources with other teachers within my cluster group and beyond. Everyone in the group bases the education they offer their children on the same core values. I would recommend United Learning to someone else because they offer their staff the chance to develop themselves professionally. 

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