Thousands of students will be graduating from Sunderland this week with celebrations taking place online.
Among them is Adam Goodbody, who spent his teaching placement helping pupils catch up after months of remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 29-year-old had worked in China for three years teaching English as a second language but had to return to the UK because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Unsure what to do next, he took the advice of friends and decided to complete his PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) at the University of Sunderland.
One year later, despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, Adam is graduating as a fully qualified History teacher, having already landed a new job at Westfield Academy in Watford, which he starts in September.
“I am pleased about getting the job, especially when history teaching positions are hard to come by,” Adam said.
“There has been a lot of uncertainty over the past year particularly when it’s all to do with changing regulations. It obviously affects your course, especially if it’s a teaching course, so we had to adapt to the situation.
“The University had a placement window to try and get us that school experience. Our tutors were very supportive in trying to get us a placement as well as helping us feel comfortable with the situation and putting our minds at ease.”
Adam was one of 20 Sunderland trainees who started their placements at Monkwearmouth Academy in Sunderland in March this year, helping support its students with gaps in their knowledge caused by lockdown.
The trainees worked across 10 subjects, providing one-to-one and small group tutoring before moving on to teaching full classes after Easter.
Adam, from Doncaster, said: “I want to thank Monkwearmouth for supporting me and helping me get to that status of qualifying as a teacher.
“The PGCE has allowed me to understand more about what is required as a teacher, like looking at differentiation, SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and long-term planning.
“There has been all these different things that I didn’t know before that I can now add to my teaching to help me become a more professional teacher and I hope I can take what I’ve learned here to my next job.
“I am ready for the next chapter. That’s my focus now.”
Susie Blackburn is Programme Leader for PGCE History at the University of Sunderland.
She said: “Adam has demonstrated his commitment and resilience unfailingly throughout the course in the face of what have been quite extreme challenges for our trainees, given the impact of the Covid pandemic on opportunities to undertake a normal PGCE year. I believe he has been a great asset to Monkwearmouth during his time there.
“I would like to congratulate Adam on his new job at Westfield Academy. This is well-deserved and an exciting new adventure to begin his history teaching career. I wish him all the very best.”
Head of the School of Education at the University, Susan Edgar, said: “I am delighted that Adam’s hard work has paid off with employment in a teaching role at Westfield Academy.
“It has been a challenging year for everyone, and I am extremely proud of our trainee teachers, who have shown real resilience and great commitment and supported schools by teaching classes both virtually online and face to face, to ensure the progress of their students.
“I would also like to give huge thanks our partnership schools and colleges for the support they have given our trainees whilst dealing with their own challenges during Covid.”
The senior leadership team at Monkwearmouth Academy added: “We would like to thank the Sunderland graduates for their dedication, time and enthusiasm in supporting our students on a catch-up plan, which our students have greatly benefitted from.
“They have supported the school in very difficult circumstances, and they have been an absolute pleasure to work with. We wish them well in their careers.”
Read more about Sunderland’s graduation celebrations here: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/class-of-2021/