UCAS Teacher Training — Personal Statement

Dr Tafara Estelle Makuni
3 min readNov 8, 2022
UCAS: Teacher Training

My desire to study a PGCE in ‘Physics with Mathematics’ is a result of a debt I owe to my secondary school teachers. Inspirational teachers who saw me become the first person from the Sydney Russell Comprehensive School to be admitted into the University of Cambridge to read Engineering. Graduating from the undergraduate degree with a distinction, I then proceeded to complete a PhD in Aerodynamics funded by Rolls-Royce plc and EPSRC.

Prior being admitted to Cambridge, I had a passion for Mathematics and Physics, and chose to read Engineering as an undergraduate because it combined these two subjects in an applied setting. To aid in making this decision, I independently attended three different summer schools. The first, Mathematics at the LSE; the second, Physics at Cambridge (Corpus Christi College); and the third, Engineering at CITY University in London.

As an undergraduate studying Engineering, my interest in teaching was sparked when I worked for an educational consultancy firm called ‘CamExpress’ based in Shanghai (ages 16–17 years). Here I designed and ran the Engineering workshops with the aim of bridging the gap between the Chinese and English curriculum. That year, several of the summer school students were successful in being admitted into Oxford and Cambridge, as well as other leading UK universities. During the postgraduate study, I supervised 2nd year and 3rd year undergraduates in Mathematics and Compressible Flow (ages 19–21 years). In both subjects, many of the students I taught went on to achieve a 1st class grade; and even pursue academic career paths. In addition to this, I also taught A-level students on the CUED summers school in July 2013 and 2014 (ages 16–17 years). Looking to expand my teaching experience further, I then worked for the summer school company called ‘Oxbridge Academic Programs’. Here I ran the Engineering Minor Course (ages 13–15 years). Like the other summer schools, the course content was a combination of teaching Physics and Mathematics in a variety of different fields. Prior to that, in September 2013, I had volunteered as an outreach IT teacher for two weeks in rural primary school in South-Africa (ages 5–11 years).

Following the completion of the PhD, I briefly worked in Norway as a post-doctoral fellow in lean jet engine combustion. This involved assisting with the supervision of early-stage PhD students (ages 23–24 years). However, sought to gain industrial experience, I returned to the UK to work for Rolls-Royce plc and MBDA UK Limited, as a Technologist and Senior Engineer respectively. During this time in industry, I have developed many key transferable skills such as leadership, communication, and resilience.

My decision to leave industry was fuelled by the desire to return to the academic world. I would like to return to academia and education because this is what I have always enjoyed the most. Studying a PGCE in ‘Physics and Mathematics’ would allow me the formal training required to teach these subjects better at secondary school; with the aim of inspiring the next generation of students to be passionate about Mathematics and Physics, as my own teachers did for me.