Secondary Mathematics PGCE student Jawad Baraka talks about his university experience as a postgraduate student.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I am a British Iraqi who came to the United Kingdom in 1996 from Iran. My family migrated to Iran during the Iraq and Iran war. My family and I were placed in a refugee camp. We were at the refugee camp for six months, after which we were placed in temporary accommodation, where we had two rooms for a family of seven. After a few years, my late father decided to leave the country due to the lack of opportunity for refugees. He decided to come to the United Kingdom in 1996. I was 10 at the time.
I started in year 6, which was a SATs year and I had a language barrier I also had been out of the education system for a few years and needed to catch up and bring my knowledge up to speed. Going to university had been a dream for me because I realised the potential of a human being if educated. I knew that if I wanted to succeed in life, and education was the key. This was my main motivation to cut through obstacles and struggle for a better tomorrow.
I went on to study Mathematics at undergraduate level. It was the only thing I loved and was good at. It wasn’t easy in my first-year at university I was catching up on my A-level knowledge. But I persevered and kept on going until I graduated.
Thinking back before you started your PGCE, did you ever think you’d be where you are now?
None of my family members went to university due to the language barrier, a late start in education and financial circumstances. Due to this, I didn't actually think that I'll make it to university at all, let alone be doing a Secondary Mathematics PGCE at London Met.
I feel that me continuing into higher education definitely sends people around me a positive message, because if I can do it, then anyone facing similar circumstances to the ones I faced can also make it. I believe my journey depicts resilience, courage, hard work and most importantly having a goal.
How has London Met and the PGCE helped in that journey?
London Met has been a revitalising stop in my journey. It is a place where tutors believe in their students, such as Dr Alan Benson. I will be very honest here – I had a counter offer to London Met from another university. It was the interview at London Met with Alan that made me sure that London Met is the right place for me. It's a positive attitude, encouraging the spirit and warm welcome that encouraged me to accept the offer, despite it being further away from where I live.
What makes the Secondary Mathematics PGCE an especially valuable degree?
The fact that PGCE is internationally recognised and trains teachers in the best possible way, where it gives the theory and practical elements to trainee teachers so that they can make the link and be reflective practitioners. I have a passion for Maths and the best way to keep my passion alive is to feed it. As a refugee, I can relate to the new wave of migration taking place at the moment and be a role model for the younger generation in order to motivate them and encourage them towards education as a path.
Do you feel that you’ve changed as a person through your university experience?
I change by the day and London Met has definitely developed me through the weeks and months that I have been here. It's enough to say that I have learnt 'the habits of the mind' from Alan, which has given me an edge over my peers into the way I approach tasks and challenges.
How has the uni helped in terms of inspiring you?
London Met goes that extra mile to expose us to the teaching profession as much as possible before we get there. I found it extremely useful that the University arranges our work placements it's almost an all-in-one stop shop!
What’s it been like studying among such diverse students?
Diversity and inclusiveness are key to success because if we look through history, we can see a correlation between the most diverse societies and their successes, as opposed to societies who are closed and remain set in their ways. I believe London Met has just that. learning is more dynamic when approached from different perspectives.
What’s next in your journey?
My next step is to complete my Newly Qualified Teachers’ status (NQTs) and my overall goal is to make Mathematics more engaging and loved in Schools.
Sum up how you feel about London Met and its impact on you?
I'm definitely proud to be part of London Met. To sum up my experience, London Met is the place where opportunities are endless, success is inevitable and diversity is at the core of all ranks.
What does it mean to be a teacher to you in one word?
Role model – because in order to influence and inspire, one must first be an example to others.
Do you have any advice for new students?
Always look at where there is inclusion, and you will know which is the right place to be in!