IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Olivia Wills

Olivia completed her Primary PGCE on the School Direct route.

Hi Olivia!

What did you do prior to starting your teacher training programme?

I was initially working in the creative team for a PR agency in London and then I went onto become a Teaching Assistant to gain as much experience as possible before embarking on a career change into the education sector. I was seeking something more meaningful with my career and wanted to connect to people in a positive and valuable way. 

What are your motivations for pursuing a PGCE?

I have always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a child because I loved interacting with others – specifically children - and have always relished sharing new concepts or alternative ideas with others. It is such a transferable skill to be able to teach as you can use it domestically in the local community or beyond by taking it overseas to a different destination. Last of all, I really enjoy learning and exploring the psychology and philosophy behind learning and education at large and so I have always been hungry to discover more!

Has there been an element of your programme that has impressed you or been particularly valuable? 

The two-week enhancement placement in the middle of our course provides invaluable experience to all trainee teachers here and is a really unique element to the PGCE course at the IOE. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go abroad and experience a completely different philosophy and style of teaching to mainstream teaching in the UK which really broadened both my understanding and experience of alternative pedagogies. I have since implemented lots of alternative strategies into my practice whilst doing my final placement and hope to continue to embed and refine these during the rest of my career.

Spending some time in different types of educational settings before the course started gave me a fresh perspective and bigger picture of education at large."

What is it like to train to teach in London?

I think that London schools are really at the forefront of new pedagogical approaches as they are so open to what the latest substantiated research shows and look hard to implement these effectively to serve their diverse communities. Training in inner city schools has its challenges but I feel that these are the best places to learn and develop as a practitioner – especially in your formative PGCE training year. Serving a diverse community by availing of all of the wonderful museums and resources that are on offer on the doorstep of the capital city is immensely rewarding and satisfying as you see the children reap the benefits of learning outside of the classroom and exploring the wider life of their city together.  

How have you found your school experience? What helped you to prepare for the classroom? 

My school experience was initially challenging with readjusting to school life being a steep learning curve, but through supportive peers, lecturers, colleagues and lots of reading and perseverance I was able to get a lot out of it. Engaging with the theoretical readings is really invaluable as these help to provide vital insights and new perspectives on the classroom experiences that you will inevitably encounter at one point or another. As I gained in confidence, my school experience became immensely enjoyable and I have a lot of happy memories from my PGCE placements.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I had such a rewarding year at IOE; the lectures were really stimulating, the staff really supportive and I made great teacher friends along the way! Its global reputation speaks for itself, but even from a personal perspective, IOE really is a fantastic place to train as the programme leads are continually adapting the course delivery to best meet the needs of the trainees and produce well-informed, competent and happy teachers who can make a difference.