SET for Teaching Success: Gemma O’Brien

Gemma O’Brien of Sheffield College, who worked for eight years as a dental nurse and receptionist before embarking on the SET for Teaching Success programme, talks about how it has helped her and the satisfaction she gains from seeing students’ personal and intellectual development.

What do you think about the SET for Teaching Success programme?

The programme offers a good insight into teaching and the CPD days offered help to bring all of the elements of the programme together which has been really helpful for me.

What do you like about teaching in Further Education?

Watching what you do have an impact on students is really satisfying. Seeing them improve in their course and watching their confidence grow; for example, I had one student who was withdrawn from the rest of the group, they wouldn’t talk to anyone at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year they were happy to deliver a presentation to the whole group. The personal and intellectual growth we help promote is the big thing for me.

What inspired you to want to teach a SET subject?

My previous job had a lot of SET content, so my knowledge from that helped make the choice to teach a SET subject. Along with this, I was also a mentor and this showed me that I was able to talk to people about their courses and subjects and help them see things more clearly. Teaching is not just about subject knowledge, it’s about forming relationships to create a positive environment too.

What have been the benefits so far from the SET for Teaching Success Programme?

The first year of the programme has been really enjoyable. I have found the CPD sessions have been particularly useful because they make a clear link to what we do in college. On top of this, the level of support offered on the programme has really helped to make the job better.

Do you have any future plans and aspirations?

I would love to have the opportunity to complete my Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status – after the SET for Teaching Success programme, I feel that I can really get into teaching.


For details of how to apply for the SET for Teaching Success programme, please visit the programme page.