Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

My job explained: Senior Lecturer and Course Leader

My job explained: Senior Lecturer and Course LeaderDawn Hewitson leads the computer science and IT PGCE course at Edge Hill University.

Could you tell us a bit about your job?

I'm a trained computer science teacher. I train teachers in how to program and how to develop solutions for science-based projects. I also do some consultancy work for the British Computer Society under the guise of Computing at School, where I go into premises and film and produce case studies of how computer science is used in industry. I then share that information with schools and with teachers of computer science and IT teachers in schools.

I also manage computer science projects and ICT projects where teachers and pupils develop solutions to a project brief. I make sure that they fall within the remit of the exam boards and check that they're on target and meet the demands of the project brief.

It's quite a specialized job: you have to have a good understanding of the education system and also a good understanding of the actual subject.

Can you describe a typical working day?

Usually I'll go to work very early in the morning and deal with emails and correspondence, and contact my trainees who are out on placement if they need me to. I deliver lectures during the day to trainee teachers, and sometimes I'll interview prospective new trainee teachers and give them guidance and support on what they need to do to become a computer science teacher. I prepare and deliver materials relating to a variety of computer science related subjects, from programming right through to networking solutions and hardware. I organize placements for trainees and train the mentors that look after them, which can be either subject-related or teacher-training related.

Another part of my job is to organize CPD (continuing professional development) for existing teachers. We train them in things like using AppInventor, which is software to design apps for mobile phones, and Raspberry Pi computers.

I also attend sessions to update my subject knowledge as well, and do research. My research area at the moment is cyberbullying and how people deal with it.

How did you get into your job?

I went to university and did a degree in business information systems with accountancy, followed by a PGCE.

I worked in further education for a while and then moved into a high school. While I was there I started mentoring student teachers, because someone had done it for me and I wanted to give something back. During that time I also worked as a moderator and a portfolio adviser for one of the exam boards, helping teachers to structure their courses. I did that for about four or five years. Then I got involved with an organization called the Specialist Schools Trust. They wanted people to go and deliver CPD training to other teachers, so I got involved with that.

After that, I did some work part-time for Edge Hill, which involved talking to people about organizing placements for student teachers, and as a result of that I was invited to work there full-time as a course leader for their PGCE IT programme and computer science.

What skills are important other than your qualifications?

Teamwork and organization are two things I think are really important, as well as looking for opportunities to share my knowledge with people who wouldn't otherwise be able to access it.

What's the best bit of your job?

The best part of my job is changing people's lives. I get people from a variety of backgrounds and turn them into successful teachers. I'm really passionate about making sure that people who work with me have a very good experience, and come out the other side feeling better qualified, better able to cope with the demands of the job.

What’s the most challenging bit of your job?

Finding people who share my enthusiasm and aren't worn out by it! I've got so many things on the go at one time, and if I do something, I like to do it well. I'm fortunate at the moment because I'm surrounded by a really good team of committed, hardworking professionals.

What advice would you have for people who want to follow in your footsteps?

First of all, don't give up: if you've got a dream and a passion, pursue it. The second thing is to talk to somebody who is where you want to be. For example, I'm pursuing a PhD at the moment, so I go along to meetings where there are people who have got PhDs to talk to them about how they've got there.

Related links