Teaching - student stories
Jim McKaig, Trainee Teacher
Why did you decide to study with the OU?
I’d done a variety of jobs for the local council but my career was going nowhere when I saw a TV advert for the OU. A few days after that my wife and I were in town and as she went shopping I decided to pop into an internet café to find out more. It changed my life!
As I was employed in a social work department at the time I started off with a community care course. It was brilliant, although I must confess my wife did look exasperated and think – perhaps justifiably – “here we go again” as I started on yet another hobby. I think she thought my interest wouldn’t last but it was a fantastic experience. I had wonderful tutors who really supported me through that first year as I learned how to write assignments. And it was made easier with teaching materials that were so well researched and well laid out.
How did the flexibility of OU study help you?
My employers put me through an HNC course after that first OU year so I took a break but then returned to it and worked my way towards a degree. That flexibility was fantastic – my wife and I both work full time and we have two kids, so being able to fit studies around all of that was really good. The courses got harder but I was hooked.
I use a wheelchair and concerns about the stress of work on my health meant I was transferred from the social work department to finance, but it wasn’t really me so I was all the more determined to achieve a degree to help my career. I’ve always wanted to teach so I continued to do courses that led me towards a named degree in Childhood and Youth Studies.
With just one course left to complete it, I took another break because I had been studying continuously for nine years – so I deliberately stepped back so I could come back refreshed and really enjoy that final year, and I did. Again, I really welcomed that flexibility.
How has your degree helped your career?
My degree has given me, at the age of 40, a brand new career, as I’ve just been accepted onto a postgraduate teacher training course at my local campus-based university. They offered me a place once I’d got my final OU results as they were impressed with the courses I’d taken and the dedication I’d shown in doing them. I had wondered if an OU degree has as much kudos as that from a campus-based university but I needn’t have worried. Everyone I’ve spoken to appreciates the work you put in – and the standard of the teaching.
And the OU tradition I began in my family is continuing as my wife has just started an OU degree in nursing! I’m delighted – it’s always exciting when your new set of books arrives, so I couldn’t resist looking at hers!
I can’t praise the OU enough and I can’t thank it enough. Next summer I will be a qualified teacher. The OU made my dreams come true.