United Teaching Blog

Trainee teacher Seren

Training to teach with a PhD


We spoke to Seren, who is training to teach maths with us through the Researchers in Schools programme. The scheme enables trainees with doctorates to inspire their students about university study and conduct their own education research projects.

Like all United Teaching trainees, Seren’s teacher training journey began in the summer with an intensive 1-week training programme, the Summer Institute. This supports trainees with the skills and confidence to enter the classroom in September.

“I decided to become a teacher because I have always had a love of learning and wanted to be able to inspire this in the younger generation,” said Seren. “I had previously been working as a graduate teaching assistant at university and enjoyed my interactions with the students.”

Seren, who studied chemical engineering at university and went on to achieve her PhD, is passionate about supporting students through key transitions in their education: “My research led me to understand some of the difficulties that students have when completing a university degree. I feel like this stems from their previous experience at school and college; in my own education, I found the transition to different stages very tricky. In training to be a teacher I hope I can impact this to help students gain the independence and responsibility for their own learning so that these transitions are taken in their stride.”

The Researchers in Schools route enables Seren to complete her PGCE and QTS with United Teaching whilst conducting research in education. Given a choice of the salaried or non-salaried routes, she chose the non-salaried route, which allows trainees to gradually build up their teaching time.

“My first term of teaching has been exhilarating and exciting,” Seren said. “Since I am on the non-salaried route, I have slowly increased my teaching load and by the end of the first term I had taken complete responsibility of one Year 9 class and I will be taking on a Year 7 class in the next term. This experience working closely with one class has allowed me to form clear relationships and get to know the students.”

Whilst there is no such thing as an ordinary day as a teacher, the challenge of Covid-19 and lockdowns has made this year particularly unusual.

“I think this year has been stranger than ever,” said Seren. “With classes and staff having to isolate, it has been tricky to manage and adapt to this change.” United Teaching’s mentors and SCITT Leads have been especially mindful of this, ensuring that regular wellbeing checks and social catch-ups can still take place online to support trainees this term.

“One of my highlights has to be when I was teaching from home and joining class through Teams,” said Seren. “There was one instance where I was able to successfully manage behaviour from the other side of a computer screen. Particularly interesting when the students think you can't see them!” 

So, what’s next for Seren in her teaching journey?

“I am looking forward to expanding my experience of remote teaching,” she said. “Luckily, I have practiced this in my first term and this knowledge is definitely necessary now! I think it will be very interesting to learn more about the nuances between year groups. So far, my teaching has been focused on Year 9, but it will be great to get to teach both Year 7 and potentially some Key Stage 4 content.” 


If you’d like to know more about training with United Teaching, either through us or through Researchers in Schools, please get in touch

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