Catherine Bourke, Science Teacher, St Ursula’s Convent

Hero image for Catherine Bourke, Science Teacher, St Ursula’s Convent

Degree subject BSc in Applied Ecology, PGCE
Job title Science Teacher
Employer St Ursula’s Convent

Wanting to study for the HDip in Ireland, I soon discovered I lacked the finances to make that happen. That’s when I came across the PGCE Programme in Edge Hill University, which is a popular destination for Irish Students.

My hope originally, once I completed my PGCE, was to get a post in Ireland but I was a little slow about looking. I heard through the college during my second term that a position that had become available at an all-girl’s catholic school in Greenwich, London called St Ursula’s. I applied and thankfully got the position six months ago; I’ve since been made permanent and even garnered a promotion.

It is only recently that I’ve started to feel a little bit more comfortable about living in Britain. I train twice a week with a ladies GAA team and being around other Irish girls has helped so much in settling me.

My target is to get a job in Ireland in about three years’ time. I want to be as experienced as I can by the time I move back to Ireland and I wouldn’t want to drop down in pay scale. I still visit Ireland regularly – in fact, I was back five times in only three months (not exactly ideal for saving money). My family are all in Ireland, of course, as is my partner.

I really like teaching in St Ursula’s – it is different from the other school’s I’ve had placements in. The girls actually want to learn and are very responsible about it. I’m living with another Irish person teaching in a school in England, and they spend a great deal of their time in behaviour management.

There are many things we could certainly adapt from the UK system for Ireland. There is an emphasis on independent learning – teaching the kids how to answer questions rather than the answers to questions. The way I teach a lesson is more practical in England, with an emphasis on developing numeracy and literacy all the time.

Advice for graduates

I’d highly recommend people who have done a postgrad to consider doing the PGCE course in England. From my experience, it is easier to get a job teaching in the UK than in Ireland. There are challenges, but there are more opportunities for advancement too.

Catherine was interviewed for gradireland Teaching & Education 2013.

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