Eleanor Mather, undergraduate student at University of Leeds' School of Education.

Eleanor Mather

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Outside of university I am an English and Maths tutor and a dance teacher. I lived in Leeds during my first two years of study, got placements at home and I am currently commuting for my last year. I loved living away and having independence but it is equally nice being at home, which means I can be more flexible with working hours. 

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds?

I originally wanted to apply to do Maths, so whilst looking at universities I only saw Leeds’ Maths department. On my last visit to a university I realised a Maths degree wasn’t for me and I found this course. I loved Leeds that much that I checked to see if they had my degree and hoped for the best! On arrival at the post-application open day I wasn’t disappointed; the campus and city are fantastic and I was so glad the School of Education didn’t let me down. 

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I have always wanted to work with children even when I was little. From 17 I started teaching dance and my passion grew as I found it to be the best job in the world! Young people are the next generation and any positive impact we can have on them is so rewarding. I have seen some of the most resilient children come from the toughest of backgrounds and it’s so inspirational. I truly feel we can learn a lot from them - just as they can learn a lot from us. 

What do you think of your course so far?

My highlight has been my year in industry, as it gave me such amazing experiences I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t come to university. The University of Leeds gives you so many opportunities, including taking modules from other departments, and so I have had the chance to do a careers module each year and a performing arts one in second year. This variety gives you a diverse skillset and allows to you complete a range of assignments, which is fantastic! 

What do you think of the facilities?

As I am on a smaller course, our lectures take place mostly in classrooms that aren’t in the usual lecture hall style and I love that. The University has fabulous facilities; the libraries have everything you need and I haven’t had to pay a penny for books, as they are either in the library or online through the library website which has definitely saved me. 

Tell us about your placement year.

I spent 10 weeks with Bolton Council Children Services and the rest of the year with two reception classes at a local primary school. At my first placement I was working at children centres and an adolescent support unit with children and young people, who were in the care of the local council or had troubled upbringings but were still in the family home. At my second placement I volunteered as a classroom assistant for both classes.

Meeting such a diverse but amazing group of children and young people, they taught me a lot about resilience and determination that I won’t forget in a hurry. I also set up a little dance troupe for kids who had never had the opportunity to go to a dance lesson and we performed at a ceremony celebrating achievements of the children in the care of that local authority. 

How have you been able to apply this to your final year?

I know a lot more about procedures and the laws relating to children as I’ve experienced them first hand. My second placement also gave me my dissertation topic.  The support I had on my year in industry was fantastic; my placement tutor came to visit me and it was great to show her the work I had been doing. 

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities?

You can join any society and I was part of a dance society in both first and second year which was a lot of fun. 

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Coming from Manchester, I thought I would never be won round but Leeds is absolutely amazing as a city. I thoroughly enjoyed living in Leeds and lived on opposite sides so got to see a lot of it! 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

It is a perfect course to do if you know you want to work with children.

What are your plans for the future?

I am going to continue to gain qualifications in dance teaching and examining as well as (hopefully) holding down a part-time career working as a family support worker to children and families within the local council.