Moray House School of Education and Sport

Lizzie Hay, MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching 2019

'This programme offers the opportunity to gain a profound understanding of transition with site-based learning experience in both primary and secondary schools. Other key elements of the programme for me are the emphasis on social justice and engaging academically at a master’s level, thereby, focusing on criticality and helping to improve practice so that opportunities can be provided for all young people.'

Lizzie studied on the Nursery - Secondary 3 pathway and is currently working in a Secondary School in Fife, mainly in the Mathematics department. 

Why did you choose to study your programme at the University of Edinburgh?

I chose to study MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching as it is a unique programme which provides me with GTCS registration to teach from Nursery to S3. Having studied Mathematics as my Undergraduate degree, I was always interested in gaining registration in both the primary and secondary sector, which uniquely this programme provides. It also offers the opportunity to gain a profound understanding of transition with site-based learning experience in both primary and secondary. Other key elements of the programme for me are the emphasis on social justice and engaging academically at a master’s level, thereby, focusing on criticality and helping to improve practice so that opportunities can be provided for all young people.

Who inspired you to become a teacher?

A career in teaching had always been something that I considered when I was younger, however, I knew that it would be the career for me after my first class of the Mathematics Education course at Edinburgh University during the last year of my undergraduate degree. After this class I found myself saying “this is what I want to do”. I had realised my passion for education and believed that I could help children and young people to learn and develop.

What aspects of student life did you enjoy the most and why?

As I studied my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, I have had a vast experience of student life within Edinburgh, including participating in sports clubs and committees and working for the Student Association. As MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching is a master’s level programme with site-based learning experiences, I knew that my last two years at Edinburgh University would give a different type of student life. I have met a diverse group of people, of a variety of ages and from different backgrounds. As one of the younger students in the group, I have learned a lot from other people and the experiences they have had. This has been invaluable, and I am sure that it will continue as our programme community grows.

What is a teaching placement like? What was it like the first time leading a class on your own?

My time in schools over the last two years has been varied and interesting. I enjoyed each placement, particularly working with different age groups (Primary 2, 5, 7 and Secondary 1-3) and found each stage to be extremely important for learning and development. Although I led the class several times in my first school, I really feel that it was in my second class that I developed and gained the most experience. I had full responsibility for the Primary 2 class for the majority of the full-time block. Although I was nervous to begin with, I appreciated having the increased responsibility and it really gave me a taster of being the class teacher, with experience of autonomy, planning sequences of lessons and day-to-day classroom organisation. It was also great to develop the class-teacher relationship with the class. I feel that I learned a lot from the children as well as the teachers in the school.

What were the aspects of your degree that you enjoyed the most and why?

Being the first year to study this programme, I believe that we have had a lot of opportunities that may not have been possible elsewhere. I have been the Programme Representative and Co-Chair of our Student-Staff Liaison Committee. This has given me the opportunity to work closely with both staff and students involved in the programme to develop the programme for future years. I was also involved in two conferences in June 2019 at Moray House. I organised a Mental Health in Schools conference alongside fellow students and staff, working with a variety of organisations and schools. I also presented at the CERES Conversation discussing racial literacy in schools with other MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching students. Both experiences have provided a great opportunity to network and learn from others. Finally, these connections and professional learning experiences have extended over to site-based learning, where we have had many discussions with different professionals working with children and young people in the local authorities of our schools. I am lucky that I will be in the same local authority for my Probation, giving me an understanding of the context and opportunities available.

What did you find most challenging and rewarding about your programme?

The workload during the programme was challenging but worthwhile. It could be difficult to work between school and university throughout the year, but I feel that this was a fantastic way to learn. The structure of the programme allows you to observe and apply theory into practice with the opportunity to reflect with fellow students and professionals. This was tiring, particularly in Year 2 when elective courses ran alongside full responsibility in school. However, it did encourage me to continue my professional learning alongside teaching which is important in practice.

The most rewarding part of the programme was the time spent in school. Being in a cluster that is hand-picked by the programme for the full year provides opportunities to really get to know the area and the context that the children and young people are living and learning in. In both of my clusters, I spent time during the holidays in the community to extend this understanding to help to build relationships. The structure of site-based learning being two days a week and then full-time blocks also allowed me to build positive relationships over a longer period with both staff and pupils, which is necessary for learning and teaching.

What was your favourite course so far and why?

I have enjoyed many of the courses that we have studied. Numeracy, Learners and Learning, Literacy, Learners and Learning (LLL) provided great practical knowledge in the classroom and connections with theory. LLL particularly helped with developing criticality skills and planning for progression of learning in schools. However, my favourite course was Children and Young People. This combines child and youth studies, psychology and other areas, focusing on the holistic child, taking into consideration mental health, risk, physical activity and other areas.

What did you most like about studying here?

I have had a varied experience throughout my time at the University with some great opportunities for learning and engaging with different people. I lived in Edinburgh for four years during my Undergraduate degree and fell in love with the city, there is always a buzz. Although I have moved back to Fife, coming through to Edinburgh is always comforting and enjoyable.

How has your programme equipped you for your future career?

I feel that the programme has not only prepared me for teaching day-to-day but for the continuous learning that the teaching profession requires. I have found that it is important to critically reflect about practice alongside theory, to be able to develop and provide the best opportunity for children and young people. We have been encouraged to lead our own learning throughout the programme which has helped me to consider my next steps. Sometimes this has felt daunting, thinking about the unknown and ‘not knowing what I was doing’, but this has made for deep and reflective learning. I will now be completing the Teacher Induction Scheme in secondary school with a generalist registration and I feel excited about the prospects that this offers. Over the last two years, we have built a community within and out-with the programme as something new has been created. This will be of great benefit when we are working in different parts of the country as we continue to network with each other.

Anything else you would like to share with a future student?

Enjoy your time on MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching, work with others across the programme; staff, fellow students, alumni and clusters and take the opportunities that you can for learning! It will be a busy two years, but it will be worthwhile and I am sure you too will be grateful for being a part of a special and motivating programme with incredibly important values.