A single OU module gave Irina Lisovyy the extra maths credits she needed to secure her spot on a postgraduate teacher training course, paving the way to her new career as a maths teacher.
She is now a qualified secondary school maths teacher working at Perth High School, after having successfully completed Strathclyde University’s postgraduate training.
Irina combined her flexible OU studies with working full-time as a hotel office manager on the Hebridean Island of Colonsay, even studying during ferry trips to the mainland.
She also achieved an OU Mathematical Thinking in Schools module in the same academic year.
Irina has an engineering and management degree from Bucharest University. Her lifelong love for maths included tutoring as a teenager – and then receiving positive feedback from her own teenage daughter when helping with her homework. “It just clicked and I started getting fond of the idea of becoming a maths teacher.
“I really wanted what was best for all of us and to be an example for my daughter. Even at 40, I thought, I can do more, and wanted to show her that there are opportunities out there.
“You may be ready at 50, or at 27. The flexibility is great.
“I always wanted to get into teaching, for example do a postgraduate diploma in Romania, but because of me deciding to come to the UK to work, the project was postponed at that time.
“Sometimes what you love and what makes your soul happy is hidden because of what you do at the time, and you are busy. It’s not that you are unhappy necessarily, but you don’t have the time to think about that.
“Whatever my daughter said at the time, it brought up all the good feelings and all the passion that I had about maths. I just love it, it’s part of who I am.”
Following her interview at Strathclyde University for their Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), to confirm her place Irina did a Literature and Communication qualification at Perth College, and her OU maths module.
For maths, the OU had been recommended to me. I asked around, “Where can I get those credits so I can have enough to get into a uni?” And I have to say, everybody said “The Open University. You can keep on working and you can do your courses, your modules, at the same time.”
“For maths, the OU had been recommended to me. I asked around, “Where can I get those credits so I can have enough to get into a uni?” And I have to say, everybody said “The Open University. You can keep on working and you can do your courses, your modules, at the same time.”
“Mathematical Methods was pure, core maths, a numbers course. That was the one that Strathclyde had said was really the essential one.
“My tutor was a great help, a great mentor. He gave clear feedback and I use the same feedback format now in school, with my own pupils.
“Another great thing about the OU, it’s not only online. For Mathematical Methods, they sent me a pack of books.
“Mathematical Thinking In School, more critical and reflective thinking, was an additional course for me.”
Irina advocates strongly for the OU’s flexibility, “I couldn’t have done it, being in university to go through a full degree, like a full-time student - not for longer than a year, like I did with the PGDE.
“The OU courses, as well as Perth College, were flexible. You had a year to finish them, but that’s not to say you couldn’t finish them sooner if you could and wanted to,” she says.
“To be given the chance, and to know that you do have the opportunity of studying whenever you want, whenever you feel ready, just take it.”
Photo by Julie Howden Photography