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Q&A with Abbie Sedgeman

Abbie completed her Primary PGCE (Specialist Mathematics pathway) in 2019 and won a London Teacher of the Year award during her newly qualified teacher (NQT) year.

Alumna Abbie (left) holds a London Teacher of the Year Award certificate presented by her school mentor Chris (right)

Hi, Abbie!

How did you become interested in teaching?

I started tutoring children Maths at a local secondary school through the Homework Club at Queen Mary’s (where I gained my undergraduate degree in Modern History). I realised that I really loved working with children and started to volunteer with primary schools too, to work out which age group to specialise in. I loved the variety of subjects with primary education and building the foundations for a love of learning that can stay with children.

And why did you choose IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society for your teacher training?

I was already based in London, and I knew that the Institute of Education was top of the rankings for Education studies. I wanted to make sure that I had the best possible education so I could provide the strongest education to the children I work with, and I knew I could get that through IOE.

How did you find the experience overall?

The experience was tough; nothing can truly prepare you for working and studying at the same time and teaching is a demanding vocation. However, this allows the trainees at IOE to feel truly prepared in their first year of teaching.

Thanks to the assessment files and the lesson evaluations, for example, I was ready for assessment and observations in class! Through the Maths pathway, I was lucky enough to spend a week of SE2 in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and I found this a really valuable element of the programme. I learned a lot about behaviour management and I definitely hope to return to work in a PRU later in my career.

What helped you to prepare for your time in the classroom? 

For me, having the chance to observe and teach in a variety of year groups and settings ensured I was prepared for my first year regardless of the job I received. When I actually got my job at Mossbourne Parkside Academy (MPA), I did not know which year I would teach in come September. My advice to those on placements, and in your NQT year, is to observe as much teaching as possible.

You recently received a Primary Teacher of the Year award at the 2020 London Teacher of the Year Awards - congratulations!

It is a huge honour. To win such a prestigious award this early in my career is amazing and I want to keep on working hard to make a difference for children in London. In particular, I want to keep increasing LGBT+ visibility in the curriculum and promote inclusivity in lessons. In five years’ time I hope to have moved towards leadership roles where I can continue to promote this.

As a newly qualified teacher, how has your school supported you?

From day one, every member of staff at Mossbourne Parkside Academy made me feel welcome and trusted me as a teacher. It sounds like a simple thing, but naturally as an NQT there is that lingering feeling that you are not prepared to be in charge of thirty children. Whenever I had a question or needed support with anything, there was not a single member of staff I was worried about asking. The Deputy Head even taught a Geography lesson in my class during his planning, preparation, and assessment (PPA) time because I asked him if he could model pacing in the wider curriculum.

As expected though, the most important person I had supporting me was my Mentor, Chris James. It was almost as though he could read my mind sometimes! In my first half term, I had a particularly difficult parent meeting and he left his meeting early to check that I was okay.

When I expressed an interest in increasing LGBT+ inclusivity in our curriculum, Chris helped by setting up meetings with other members of staff until I was leading changes in our school. And he did all of this alongside his other mentor responsibilities, Associate Vice Principal duties, being Maths Lead and a Phase Leader! As a mentor, he inspired me to be better and I would not have been as strong a teacher now it if it were not for him.

What did you find challenging and how did you overcome this?

I think one of the main challenges of the training year and newly qualified teacher (NQT) year is developing work-life balance. During training, maintaining any form of personal life seems impossible but it is important to make time for relaxing.

Around February of my NQT year I was pulled into my NQT Mentor’s office and we mapped out how many hours I was spending working and it was definitely way too many! Luckily, I had an incredibly supportive mentor who helped me prioritise, but burnout is such a common trainee/NQT mistake so developing time management and creating time for yourself is very important.

Do you want to give any other shout-outs?

I honestly would not have got through the past year without my fellow NQT at MPA, Charlotte Jones. She kept me grounded throughout the year and listened to my KS2 stress and woes! During lockdown, she organised an NQT discussion group with me and the other NQT at our school so we could explore different techniques, develop our practice, and speculate how things may have changed when we returned in September 2020.


Image (top): Abbie Sedgeman (left) holds a London Teacher of the Year Award 2020 certificate presented by her school mentor Chris James (right).