In her second year of teaching and already the Science lead at the Primary School she works at, 26-year-old Jess Fenton, from Falmouth, knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher when she got a whiteboard for Christmas at the age of six to teach her teddies.
Working at a special educational needs (SEN) intervention centre while travelling in Australia, inspired Jess to come home and gain a qualification in education. Initially looking at an evening course, Jess came across the Foundation Degree (FdA) in Children and Young People’s Workforce at Truro and Penwith College, she said “When I came back, I knew I wanted to be in the Truro and Falmouth area, which is when I stumbled across the prospectus online. I knew I had my A-levels so I was much more prepared for the next step”.
Always one to carefully plan her qualifications, Jess felt that the university level provision at Truro and Penwith College made gaining a degree and becoming a Primary School Teacher much less intimidating and more easily achievable. Jess said “I didn’t apply to university when I was doing my A-levels because the thought of going away to a large university was really daunting. I didn’t want the pressure of having to get high grades to get a place”. She continues “I always want to make sure before signing myself up to something. So I finished college at 18 and I did two maybe three years of working before enrolling on the Foundation Degree. Once I knew I’d passed, I then applied to do the Top-up”.
With a wealth of work placement hours and graduating from the BA (Hons) Education and Training, Jess continued to carefully plan her qualifications and went on to work as a Teaching Assistant at Mylor School. After a year, Jess decided that she was ready to become a fully qualified Primary School Teacher and so enrolled in SCITT primary. Jess’s biggest highlight of her academic journey was when she gained her teacher status. On gaining her qualification, she said “I almost cried. It was that big a moment. The whole way through, when you’ve got your heart set on something that has so many tick lists, when you get there, it’s an amazing feeling.
The level of support that is available to students really added to Jess’s experience at the College. With careers advice and study skills sessions available throughout the year, Jess praises the levels of support that is available to students at the College which added to her experience. She said “Everyone was really supportive, you could even go and visit staff in their offices and they’d be really helpful. The library help was really helpful too - before the FdA and the BA they held proper referencing sessions”.
During her time studying at University level at the College, due to the condensed timetable, Jess was able to work as a Teaching Assistant alongside her studies. She said; “I liked that you could maintain your normal life, money, family and everything else whilst still getting a degree. I’ve still had life experiences whilst gaining my degree, I haven’t missed out on the travelling or anything because I chose not to follow that traditional university experience”. She added; “I haven’t moved away from home, but I’ve still got life experience even though I didn’t live in halls”.
Jess's Primary School is a member of the Truro Penwith Academy Trust (TPAT), a community of primary and secondary schools in Cornwall that support their teachers with training and career opportunities. Truro and Penwith College have a strong link with TPAT ensuring that many higher education students enrolled in an Education course gain access to high-quality work placements. Helping to boost her career and ensure that she has the most up to date knowledge, Jess gains continuous training opportunities through the Trust. She says “The support you get being a TPAT school is great I love the training. I get to go to TPAT science training courses. I like the link between schools. Before TPAT, this school wouldn’t have links with schools such as Blackwater or Perranporth. We did an English. We gain more information because we have the support of all the other schools and their resources. Being able to use people in the trust to support yourself works really well”.
Jess advises anyone that wants to follow in her footsteps and become a Primary School Teacher without leaving the county, saying; “do a course at Truro College because you are really in control of your path. You can do the FdA and then if you want to can go on to a top-up. Everything is in much smaller bitesize pieces. Life is what you make it, it’s not like you are signing up for a three-year course in Bath and if you don’t like it, that’s it. Truro and Penwith College is a comforting and nice way of qualifying, especially as a teacher. I literally tailored my education to how I wanted it”.
If you want to follow in Jess's footsteps and start your journey to Primary Teaching, find out about our new FdA Teaching and Learning course, designed with Primary Education specialists, sharing the most up to date knowledge to the next generation of Primary School Teachers.
I liked that you could maintain your normal life, money, family and everything else whilst still getting a degree. I’ve still had life experiences whilst gaining my degree, I haven’t missed out on the travelling or anything because I chose not to follow that traditional university experience