A trainee teacher from Cwmbran has graduated with a 2.1 honours degree from the University of South Wales (USW) – a complete turnaround from her background in sport.
Sarah Hancock, 26, initially applied to study chemistry in Manchester, but the course did not live up to her expectations, so she returned to Wales to re-think her options.
Sarah plays hockey, netball and football, as well as co-running Cwmbran Netball Club. It was this love for sport that made her decide to study BSc Sports Studies at the former University of Wales, Newport.
The change in discipline worked out, as she graduated from the Sports Studies degree with a 2:2.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and made some lifelong friends,” she said.
A change to teaching
During her studies, Sarah became interested in teaching. She did some supply work as a teaching assistant at The Marion Centre, a dedicated place of learning for young people with autism – which led to a full-time job offer.
“Whilst working at The Marion Centre, I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in teaching,” Sarah added.
“I wanted to plan the lessons myself and see how the children develop over time.
“After the University of Wales, Newport merged with University of Glamorgan, there were more courses to choose from. Some friends told me about the BSc (Hons) Secondary Science with ICT, which I could apply for as an alternative to the PGCE course. I was able to transfer 120 credits from my first degree.
“I was proud to achieve a better result than my first degree. I think you appreciate studying more as a mature student, especially as I gave up full-time employment to focus on my studies. I had to do some bar work to supplement my income.”
A new job
Since her exams, Sarah has been working as a supply teacher to stay in touch with the profession. She has now been offered a job at Newport High School, where she will start in September.
“I’m over the moon,” she said.
“My advice to anyone thinking of returning to education is to do it sooner rather than later – I wish I had started this degree earlier. Yes, it was very hard work, but the lecturers and faculty staff were so supportive, which really helped. It’s not as scary as you think.”