Beth from the University of Newcastle answers the hard questions on teaching in the UK!

What was your degree in and what do you teach?

My degree was a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary)/ Bachelor of Health and Physical Education (Hons). I am currently teaching years 7-11 PE and year 10 and 11 GCSE PE (Equivalent of the HSC).

How do you think your university set you up for your career after graduating?

Throughout my degree, we were required to do numerous placements within schools. I believe that experiences like this and being thrown in the deep end and gaining that experience teaching for yourself really shapes the experiences you bring with you when you start your teaching career.

Since being over here and chatting to the other PE teachers who became qualified through Universities in the UK, I have found that there is such a high standard of content and opportunities provided within my degree by the University of Newcastle when comparing my degree to theirs.

What did you like most about your university?

The thing I liked most about the University of Newcastle definitely has to be the numerous opportunities provided by the University both within and external to your degree that allowed you to gain the most out of your university experience that you could. I also liked the wide variety of services they offered both on and off campus.

How did you find out about Point to Point and/or the opportunity to teach in the UK?

Throughout my degree we had always been told about the various opportunities gaining a degree in teaching would give us such as the chance to teach abroad. When I completed my degree I did some research into teaching overseas and was advised to contact an agency and begin this process through them. I searched some agencies online and came across Point to Point who I got in contact with.

How exactly did Point to Point assist you in getting the job?

Right from the get go, Point to Point were fantastic! About an hour after my initial enquiry, I received a phone call from one of the Point to Point employees who talked me through the whole process including what Point to Point were all about, what had to be done for me to teach in the UK and guided me through the numerous forms and paperwork. Once I had filled out all the paperwork, I had a skype conversation with one of the Point to Point employees who asked me a number of questions in order to gain an understanding into what qualifications I had, my interests and hobbies, what I believe education is and what it should look like. From this, it was all systems go. From my interview questions, they created a profile that could be sent out to schools to show my interest and what I am all about. After all the paperwork was complete, all I had to do was sit back and wait for some good news.

Finding the right job took a couple of weeks, but through this whole process Point to Point kept me updated with information about schools they were going to send my profile to, schools that had shown interest in me and schools that were interested in carrying out a Skype interview. Once I had got an interview with a school, Point to Point were fantastic! They organised for me to do a mock interview and gave me possible questions that I may be asked.

From this interview, I gained a teaching position at a fantastic school. Point to Point made the organisation of accepting and starting this job very easy. They organised the contract, connected me with the Deputy and pushed me in the right direction. They also got me in contact with somebody who was going to help me with my DBS check (child protection) and assist me with gaining a national insurance number and payroll.

Both the move/transition to the UK and starting my position would not have been so smooth if it wasn’t for the constant support and assistance I have received from Point to Point. Since arriving and starting my position in the UK, Point to Point have been in contact making sure everything is going well and offering any assistance where they can.

Which location are you teaching in?

I am teaching in a town called Bexleyheath which is about half an hour south of London at a lovely school.

What is the experience like (travelling, living, working) and would you recommend it?

The experience has been nothing like I could have ever imagined! Living and working in a country such as the UK has been incredible. Believe me when I say you are exhausted all the time (don’t worry, it’s a good exhausted). Starting work earlier, finishing work later and spending my afternoons and weekends adventuring out to new places while still trying to fit in all that marking has been challenging but not something that I would ever change.

I think the most rewarding experience is being part of a small close knit community within the school that has so much to offer you in terms of opportunities, experiences, knowledge and assistance. Not only do you benefit from this connection but so do they. You are able to show them what you can bring to the table and how a fresh set of eyes and ideas can be refreshing. The experiences that I have gained teaching here  are definitely ones that will stay with me wherever I may end up.

Taking the leap to start a new chapter of your life in a new place is definitely something that I would recommend to anyone. There is so much to gain and really not much to lose from an opportunity like this.

If I ever have a bad day, I just remember the fact that Europe is at my front door and that seems to make everything better!

Is there anything important other students should know to make the move/transition easier?

Well I would definitely recommend eating as many Tim Tams as you can possibly eat before you go and stocking up with all the tubes of Pawpaw that you can fit in your bag, not even kidding!

I found the transition and move quite easy but I can also see how it could be quite difficult. My best advice I could possibly give can be summed up in a few points.

  • If you know people where you are heading then get in touch to see if they wouldn’t mind putting you up for a few days. This really helped me get on my feet, organise essentials such as bank accounts and phones and made me feel at home for the first few days even though I was really 16, 978kms away (close enough).
  • Don’t get trapped into the working life. Spend any chance you have got adventuring out and finding new places to see.
  • Head down to your local (pub that is) and get friendly with them, not only do they love us Aussies but they will be your second family! Oh they also have wicked pub food for those evenings that you don’t feel like cooking (most evenings really).

Is it different from working and living in Australia and if so, how?

I haven’t found working in a school over here too different to working in a school back in Australia, I think kids will always be kids. There are some minor differences in terms of the structure and make-up of the schools but it’s nothing that can’t be handled.

As for living in the UK, I settled in right from the start. I have felt right at home the last few weeks (mainly because of the lovely weather) but I’m sure once winter hits, I won’t be saying the same thing.

What are your plans for the future? Do you think this experience will help your career back in Australia (if you plan to come back)?

I have always lived by the idea that sometimes it is better to not have a plan and just go where life takes you. I do fully intend on teaching in the future but the who and where bit is still in the unknown. I definitely think that this experience will help my career wherever life may choose to take me.