Employability in Biology

The biological sciences degrees at Edge Hill University – Biology, Ecology & Conservation, Genetics, Human Biology and Biotechnology (and soon to include Plant Science and Food Science) – offer a number of ways to increase your employability. Within your modules, many aspects enhance skills that will no doubt increase your employability – there are additional opportunities however that will further your employability by showing determination and experience.

Within Modules

Undoubtedly, all modules enhance your employability by virtue of their contents, however, some give you more experience than others, and some are designed specifically to increase your employability. For example: Laboratory Masterclass is a module that develops your lab skills through experiments; Research Methods, as you would suspect, develops your research skills, from experimental planning to statistical analysis – all enhancing your employability via experience.

Placement Module

During second year, you have the option to choose a placement module, and undertake work alongside your studies. It goes unsaid how this enhances your employability – real life experience is invaluable when it comes to employment. With Edge Hill having numerous links, there are options to what field of work you wish to do a placement in, although sourcing the work for yourselves is also highly encouraged.

ERASMUS+

ERASMUS+ is a European placement program for students that funds them to work abroad. The current Erasmus programs at EHU for biosciences take place across the summer between second and third year, lasting a minimum of 6 weeks. I myself am taking part in an Erasmus placement, with a coursemate, in Sweden – specifically at SLU in Umeå. The other current option is work in Cyprus (a country most Edge Hill biologists will be familiar with thanks to the first year residential field trip) with more options hopefully being available in the future.

Sandwich Years

The option also exists to take place in a sandwich year – spending a year at a foreign university or on a work placement. Studying abroad shows a great deal of adaptivity and resilience, each boosting your employability. Working for a year in between your studies is also good experience and may even give you some inspiration for your dissertation the following year.

Teaching Placements

I am both so excited and so nervous for my second placement. By the time I start in April, I will have been out of the classroom for over a year and so I have increasingly mixed feelings about being back in one. Nonetheless, I had an absolutely fabulous placement last year, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

Edge Hill have a massive variety of placement schools scattered across the country, which is one of the reasons that I chose the university in the first place. I didn’t want to be confined to one area and getting to experience lots of different places was one of the most exciting things I could think of. This year, I have friends travelling to Luton, Wales and the Isle of Man and they’re all incredibly excited to go on what we call remote, or regional placements.


 So, what did I do during Professional Practice Phase 1A?

I learned more on practice than I did throughout the rest of the year; I spent time consolidating the theory I had learned at university, and had my eyes opened to things I had never even considered before. I got to teach a lovely Year 6 class in Telford and it broke my heart to leave at the beginning of February last year. I had created such strong relationships and made such a positive impact on these children during the time I was there, and they taught me just as much as I taught them, if not more.

During practice, there are a variety of tasks you have to complete for when you come back to university. Some things are necessary for when you’re actually teaching, such as reading the Behaviour Management Policy, finding out who the Safeguarding Lead, etc, whilst other tasks are to help you to reflect later in the year. One of these included finding out how the school was implementing the computing curriculum, for example. When I was writing my assignment about why the curriculum had changed, having that knowledge really helped me.

Of course, I spent my time on practice teaching. There is no bigger reward than hearing someone shout out ‘I’ve got it!’ with glee. There is nothing better than the ‘Thanks Miss!’ comments written at the end of a lesson, complete with a smiley face. My favourite lessons were the ones where we had really open discussions and I was taken aback by the nature of their empathy and understanding of others. Despite the early mornings and the long days and the stress, it was these moments that I lived for.

So yes, I am incredibly nervous to start my next placement, but it is 100% my favourite part of the year, and the reason I am here.

Placements!

So many courses at Edge Hill incorporate placements to heighten and deepen your depth of experience and learning! It is definitely work asking on open days or looking at the Edge Hill prospectus to see if your desired course involves a placement!

Tomorrow I am starting my last (but not least!) placement in order to become a qualified teacher at the school I have secured a job in- yes… Already!!

Placements are brilliant times to really get to understand your chosen career area, to meet new people and gain an insight into what is required of you to be truly successful!  They are exciting times which allow you to improve your skills in a variety of areas as well as increasing your expertise and experience (something you can’t ever say no to!).

At the end of the day this increases your chances of getting a job, especially compared to someone who has no experience. Plus if you’re well and truly passionate and eager to get working it is a vital and fantastic opportunity that is a worth doing!

Definitely something to think about!

Why do a Course with a Placement?

So if you choose a course that involves a placement you’ve made a brilliant choice as you get the best opportunity to experience the field of work you want to pursue.

Depending on what course you do depends what time of year you’ll be out on placement. But regardless of the time of year… let’s face it, the best type of experience is the hands-on kind; there’s no better way to learn and improve.

Some examples of courses that have elements of placements involved in the course are early years, primary and secondary education, nursing and midwifery. These placements are tailored to the course so you’ll be sent out in a cohort, meaning that you won’t miss any contact time with tutors or miss lectures. Which is all good news seen as you will definitely have enough work to do throughout the year, boredom is never an issue.

Personally I’ve found that going on placement is great in the sense you truly understand what job you’re building up towards; by that I mean what’s expected of you on a day-to-day basis. Most of what is involved in the job you probably have never thought of and overlooked, meaning you know all the ins and outs before your three years are up. Employability-wise this experience is definitely going to look most favourable when going for jobs, definitely something you have to think about before you start your degree.

I hope this insight into placements has helped!

The Nitty Gritty

Now, I bet you’ve heard a lot more about the social life at uni than you probably have about the actual degree part!

Now everybody’s course is different and I definitely recommend that you ask somebody how your course is assessed before you start uni to make sure that you are prepared for what’s instore! I however missed this highly important factor and found myself amongst essays, coursework and exams (not that this bothers me – thankfully!). Such courses as Early Years and Primary Education only consist of essays and coursework currently, so it really does depend on what suits you.

Like everything as a consumer, if you are paying for something you need to make sure it’s what you want, especially your education as it is the foundation for your future. Having a degree should open doors to you, allowing you to go down many career routes rather than being restricted to HAVING to do something you’re not 100% on.

Some courses will even let you choose areas to major/minor in (such as primary education) allowing you to have a say in what you learn which makes essays etc. so much easier when you enjoy, and have an interest in, what you’re doing.

So remember to ask questions and enjoy what you’re doing!

It’s Placement Time!

Currently I am on placement in a school teaching maths. If your course involves a placement then it’s something to look forward to as you can put what you’ve learned all year into practice and show what you’re made of!
The most important thing that you need to know is that you shouldn’t be nervous but excited as it’s a great opportunity to get to grips with the life of a school teacher. It’s also a great time to liaise with the staff, asking them questions about the pupils, challenges of the job and the role in general!
I am on my second placement and there are differences in the teaching practices of my first and second school. Personally I think this is great as it equips you with a vast array of skills to enter the teaching world with!

The lectures help a lot with the teaching placement as you are trained to plan lessons effectively, reflect upon the lesson and improve it! You will also have an array of already planned lessons that you can use on placement, courtesy of yourself and others in your year (if they are willing to share!). This all means that it is not that daunting and ALL new, as you will have seen lesson plans and schemes of work etc before!

Placement also allows you to explore aspects of teaching such as behaviour management, SEND, safeguarding and EAL. This is something that you do touch upon at uni but is put into practice and practiced more in-depth in the real world – again helping you prepare for the life of the teacher!

I hope this is a fairly insightful guide of what to expect on placement and I will keep you updated!

Primary Education – Placement

With teaching, comes experience. An awful lot of experience. So much so, that unless given permission to do so, talking about ‘little Billie’ and his ability to add two numbers together is forbidden outside of the classroom. Seriously considering introducing an “it’s okay to talk about placement right now” coupon scheme with my flat mates.

With having began my course of Primary Education here at Edge Hill University, I was so excited to finally be learning things actually relevant to my future, rather than all that trigonometry malarkey drilled into my naive head a few years back now. Terribly pointless – we’ve all been there.

Seminars and lectures cutting the small talk and getting straight down to business; safeguarding, the curriculum and placement.

Whilst feeling so vulnerable and raw, once having began what had felt like a whole new life, being informed that I’d be ‘shipped off’ to an unfamiliar school setting within just 2 months for 8 weeks.. 8 WHOLE WEEKS.. that’s 40 DAYS (*faints*). The thought was terrifying.. but I never thought I’d see myself where I am now.

Edge Hill University has been thoroughly supportive through this hectic yet super exciting time as I begin my journey of training, adapting and developing. I’ve grown so much already! Each morning, seeing my class walk in with a seemingly large smile on their innocent faces as they shout; “good morning Miss Pickering!!” never fails to put a smile on my face as I’m reminded why I chose to follow through with this stressful but magical career. (Although I must admit, it more often than not goes something like “Miss Pickerinsgings” – don’t ask).

So you’ve probably got a lot of questions – I know I certainly did. It’s a terrifying thought, but it’s so important in your self-development to become and outstanding teacher. I truly feel as though Edge Hill guided me through this process with their hand in mine, guiding me through the treacherous forest out into the yellow meadows. Ways in which they do this includes;

  • A professional practice partner – another year one student just like yourself in either the same class or school as you!
  • Edge Hill trying their best to make sure you’re in a school/location most convenient for yourself.
  • Providing you with all the information and documents you could ever possibly need to fill you in on all of their expectations of you.
  • Allowing you to claim back fuel and accommodation expenses.
  • Excellent support and guidance from staff such as your visiting tutor and personal tutor.
  • And much, much more!

Please don’t hesitate to comment below with any questions you may have!