- Course studied:
- Mathematics PGCE
- Year of graduation:
Serena Khalil is pursuing a “very rewarding” career as a secondary school mathematics teacher – a subject she’s always had a keen interest in. She has just completed her first academic year teaching 11 to 16 year olds, after achieving her Mathematics PGCE from Staffordshire University in July 2015.
“The kids can really test your limits at times, but when you build a relationship with them and they come to you after a particularly tough lesson to say they have enjoyed the lesson, it is very rewarding,” she said.
Serena grew up in the coastal town in Norfolk, before deciding to embark on an Environmental Science degree at Nottingham Trent University. “It was something I took an interest in at A Level,” she explained.
“Before I went to University I had a job at M&S and, after I graduated, I ended up back in Norfolk at M&S. I felt like I had gone full circle. So when I finished my degree I was contemplating my options and went to a careers day at university, which is when I started thinking about teaching.”
Serena took a job as a higher level teaching assistant – maths intervention specialist at a local High School, where she stayed for a year. She said: “Whilst working as a HLTA I didn’t need any other qualifications, so I thought it would be a good way to test if I enjoyed working around students, before contemplating a PGCE.”
During that time, she began researching universities that offered a PGCE in either secondary school geography or mathematics. A friend had recommended Staffordshire University and she began corresponding with senior lecturer Kate Dale.
“I went to a few university open days before I went to Staffs,” Serena recalled. “Before I even applied, Kate the lecturer was very supportive. Not having a maths degree was deterring me but Kate was telling me I had a lot of experience already and that I should apply.
“I did an 8-week subject knowledge enhancement course in mathematics over the summer and then I started the PGCE, which was very organised. The lecturers were experienced as well as the external speakers. Even now, working as a teacher, Kate is very supportive. I’ve just taken a new job and I sent her my lesson plan for feedback. She’s always at the end of an email or text message.”
Serena returned to Great Yarmouth after attaining her PGCE to teach at a local 11 -16 academy. “The first term as a full-time maths teacher was really challenging, but after Christmas everything came together,” she recalled.
After one academic year back home in Norfolk, she applied for a position at a school in Birmingham, where she had lived as a student and had completed her teaching placements.
“The dynamics in a city school are very different to a rural area and I wanted to get back to Birmingham,” Serena explained. “I see myself staying as a maths teacher in future and going on to something pastoral.”