Ursula Taylor - College of Arts, Humanities and Education - University of Derby

Ursula Taylor, BEd (Hons) Primary Education, 2014

What are you doing now?

Since completing my BEd (Hons) Primary Education at the University of Derby in 2014 a variety of challenging and inspiring opportunities have come my way. I started my NQT year at Al-Madinah School which, at that time, was in special measures. I have worked with a range of professionals to develop practice within the school which contributed towards the school getting out of special measures.

During my NQT year I have supported the school, staff, parents and children in raising standards for children’s achievements. I have worked with parents to educate and support them in encouraging the education of their children in order for all children to reach their potential.

Since completing my NQT year in July 2015 I have taken on the responsibility of ‘Science coordinator’ and the university ‘School Link Tutor’. An intended view for the school is that it recognised for excellence in science. This has challenged and inspired me to create our own science curriculum programme of study which is currently being written to provide support for all staff resulting in outstanding progress for all children.

In order for the community at Al-Madinah to continue their learning journey to proceed to ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ it has been a priority to get other professionals within school. Therefore I have organised students and tutors from the university to come into school. This has provided valuable opportunities for staff to increase and strengthen their teaching as they expand their knowledge of good practice through initiatives brought in from the high quality students from the University of Derby. As a result, this collaboration with the university which I have organised has created a culture in school where we are learning from each other, thus having a significant positive contribution to the children’s overall progression and attainment.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I have always been passionate and fascinated by the holistic development of children and how professionals support children in order for all children to reach their full potential. It was for that reason that I decided to study a Childcare CACHE award, certificate and diploma at the University of Derby – Buxton campus. From there my interest within this area grew. I thoroughly enjoyed working with children from birth to eleven years. My experiences during this course encouraged me to apply and study the BEd (Hons) Primary Education at the University of Derby where I could develop my knowledge and experience further to ensure I provided all children with quality and inspirational learning.

During the four year course at the University of Derby I worked within Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 within a variety of school contexts as well as working with children within a Special Educational school. Furthermore, I was able to develop a further passion of mine which is the humanities. I studied under two inspirational tutors who provided excellent lectures and experiences which have then influenced and enhanced my passion for the humanities.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

The university had a good reputation for its education department and I was keen to develop my practice from educated and informed tutors who had experienced life as a teacher and could inform my own practice. The university had exceptionally good links with schools and worked collaboratively with many schools to support them in developing their practice.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

After studying at Derby I was able to make links with the university who then directed me to other professionals and schools to work with. This has helped me become increasingly reflective as I am able to share and develop my own practice.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

I found all the tutors at the university equally and individually inspiring. The experiences and knowledge they shared with all the students ignited a passion an appetite within us to reflect and become the best teachers Derby has to offer. Often during professional dialogues and lectures with tutors, the message that I understood is that the best teachers not only make a difference to the children’s education but to their learning journey throughout their life. It was with this message I came to the conclusion that I wanted to work with children of all ages, in particular those who did not necessarily have the opportunities to become lifelong learners.

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?

The BEd course provided the foundations of my practice and professional development as I was able to work with a variety of professionals, tutors and schools in very differing settings. This has supported me during my first two years of teaching as all these experiences equipped me the necessary tools I have needed in order for me to become an outstanding professional.

During my time at Al-Madinah school, professionals and I have worked extremely hard to promote a positive image of the school. The tutors at the university have been extremely supportive in helping us achieve this. They have provided opportunities for students to take on placements with us as well as providing extra curricular days where students come and work with the pupils within our school. Additionally, I have been given the opportunities to share my experiences and that of the school’s journey with students.

All of these experiences have helped promote the image of the school and influenced professional discussions to highlight the positive progress the school has made.

What are your future plans?

I would like to continue the relationship I have with the university by continuing to deliver my experiences and knowledge to other students as well as organise for the university to work in partnership with the school to provide positive experiences for all children.

Additionally I would like to work in partnership with the university to develop research projects within practice, taking initiatives and strategies in school and using research to refine them in order to provide outstanding teaching which will not only benefit the children but also benefit the students filtering through university in developing their professional practice.

I would also like to become key stage leader within the school as I feel I am ready for the challenges and opportunities it has to offer.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

The University of Derby BEd (Hons) Primary Education is an outstanding course which offers a variety of experiences to all students who attend. All the tutors are extremely supportive in encouraging their students to seize all opportunities which will enhance their interests thus helping develop into excellent teachers.

The excellent knowledge and education provided from the very start of the course encourages all students to become lifelong learners as it sparks interests to pursue. The relationships and support network you develop with students, tutors and other professionals remains with you throughout your time at the university and beyond your studies.

Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?

During my time on the course I developed and maintained professional relationships with both students and tutors. I am still in touch with Dionne Barton, Ani Thomas and Sarah Charles. All of which I have had the opportunity to work with in delivering lectures about my own experiences within school and supporting students making the transition from university to school.

Additionally, the tutors at the university have supported myself within my practice by organising students to come into school to take part in creative arts days as well as organising for our Year 6s to go to the University for World Book Day.

These experiences have been extremely valuable not only to the children but to the school. All of which assist the school in its journey to ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

"The university had exceptionally good links with schools and worked collaboratively with many schools to support them in developing their practice." Ursula Taylor