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FSC placement fires up Katherine’s passion for teaching

An award-winning graduate has been inspired to pursue a career teaching science after unearthing her passion for outdoor learning during a work placement with a leading UK educational charity.

Katherine Webb recently graduated from the University of Bath with a first-class honours degree in biology and has been awarded a top university prize for demonstrating ‘excellence’ during a year-long work placement with outdoor eduction charity the Field Studies Council.

She is now about to start a teacher training course at the University of Cambridge specialising in science and hopes very soon to be inspiring the next generation of young ecologists and biologists from both inside the classroom and out.

The 22-year-old, who is currently travelling the world, is passionate that getting children outdoors into the environment is essential to developing knowledge and skills in subject areas such as science, geography and geology.

She believes teaching should stretch the curriculum and be carried out in places beyond the four walls of a classroom.

It’s a view which was firmly cemented in her mind following her own experiences and a graduate work placement with the Field Studies Council (FSC) – one of the UK’s leading outdoor education charities.

As with most university courses Katherine was required to undertake a year-long work placement as part of her studies and she succeeded in securing a place at the FSC’s Blencathra Field Centre in Threlkeld near Keswick.

Designed to give students hands-on, practical experience in their subject area, the placement year enabled Katherine to work and teach children of all ages who were visiting the residential centre for geography, geology and biology field studies and it heavily influenced her decision to want to pursue teaching as a career.

“I already knew that I liked working with young people when I applied for my higher education placement role, but teaching a range of ages solidified Katherine teaching students at FSC placement my plans to teach secondary school science, with my specialism in biology,” she explained.

“I will be starting my PGCE in September at the University of Cambridge, which I am really excited about. 

“My next steps have definitely been influenced by my time with the FSC.”

During her placement, Katherine worked closely with FSC tutors running sessions for primary school children on biodiversity and teaching biology to GCSE and A Level students.

She also helped with leading field trips from the centre, nature walks, an annual BioBlitz and a range of other activities.

“It was great to see young people pushing themselves in adventure activities and feeling really proud of themselves after achieving what they thought was impossible,” she said.

“On nature walks, it was lovely to see young people asking interesting questions about the natural world and feeding their curiosity with all the facts tutors and I could think of.

“If my time with the FSC taught me anything, it was that teaching should go beyond the remit of the curriculum and should be flexible enough to encourage young people to find out what they are interested in and what they are capable of,” she added.

Katherine was recently awarded the Robert Eisenthal Prize for ‘Excellence on Placement’by the biology department at the University of Bath and is now determined, more than ever, to share her passion for outdoor learning with future generations.

FSC Blencathra centre manager Lizzie Chaplin-Brice congratulated Katherine on her award and degree success.

She said: “From the day I met Katherine on the placement selection day, I knew she would go on to be very successful.

“All our staff and tutors share a passion for outdoor learning and believe practical, hands-on experiences can help children to develop a much more in-depth understanding of the natural world.

“Katherine’s passion for the natural environment was evident from day one and she was able to engage and enthuse learners of all ages in practical hands on sessions out in the field.

“We are delighted she has chosen to pursue a career in teaching.

“Now, more than ever, it’s crucial we have talented role models inside and outside of the classroom who can educate youngsters on how to protect nature and the environment.

“Taking children out of the classroom gives them new and interesting opportunities and experiences and we’re confident Katherine will be a fantastic advocate for outdoor learning.”

FSC operates 20 centres across the UK and Ireland providing environmental education to schools, colleges and universities.

For more information on its courses visit https://www.field-studies-council.org/.