Ross MacLeod
Humanities at John Wheatley 2008/9
University of Glasgow - BEd (Hons) 1st Class Primary Education (2013)
Now teaching P4
Hi, I'm Ross, I’m 34 years old and I'm originally from Musselburgh, just outside of Edinburgh.  My partner and I have an 8-month-old son who was born five days before I started my probationary teaching year.  

My dad was a civil servant and my mum was a nursery nurse. I think that my parents felt that they didn't get a lot out of their education and they wanted their children to do better. And because I had good grades, they had the expectation that I would go and do something further with it. But I wasn't interested in the slightest.

A lot of my friends went to university, and I actually did go to uni straight out of high school.  I got the grades I needed to get in, but I had coasted through school and I wasn’t very committed to continuing in education. My best friend and I used to skive a lot and I didn’t put much thought into what I would apply for, so I completed my UCAS application in a hurry. The course and university I chose were definitely not for me, so I left after only one month. I got a job working for the Scottish Office (now the Scottish Government), doing filing and stuff like that. From there, I went on to Standard Life, answering phones, dealing with life insurance and investment. I was there for eight years, then later worked in sales and customer service roles at large banks.

Looking back on it, I just was not ready for university when I was 18. I wasn’t ready for the workload and I had already had a taste of earning a salary through summer jobs, so that’s what I was interested in doing at that time. At the back of my mind, however, I always imagined I could return to university whenever I got ready. When I grew tired of working in the financial sector, I approached universities about returning. That’s when I learned to my dismay that my five good Highers were out-of-date and could no longer be used as an entry qualification. 

I found out about SWAP as I was Googling, trying to find other ways of getting into university. I contacted John Wheatley College directly, had an interview with them and went away on holiday. I returned to a letter saying I had been accepted for the Access to Humanities programme.

Going back into the classroom was quite strange. The workload wasn't too heavy to start off with and it was gradually built up. Most of my classmates were women; there was only me and one other guy. But we very quickly bonded as a group and the tutors were excellent. They were very, very good; approachable and very different from my experience of education in school. We were treated almost as peers, not as subordinates. Still, by the end of that year at college, I wasn't terribly sure how prepared I was for university.

To be honest, I kind of begrudged having to do the SWAP programme at college; I thought my school qualifications should have been good enough, so I wasn’t very happy to discover that they had ‘expired’. And the year at college seemed to me to be just another set of hoops to jump through. However, after I started university, I realised just how valuable that year at college had been. To go straight from not having written anything substantial for 10+ years to writing academic essays is a big jump, but the SWAP course bridged that gap and got me back into the habit of working and writing to that standard without too much of a problem. Without the SWAP programme to ease me into it, I don't think I would have finished first year -- I don't think I would have made it past Christmas! In addition, I made good friends at college that I’m still in touch with now.

I graduated in 2013 from the University of Glasgow with a BEd (Hons) 1st Class in Primary Education, and I'm now in my probationary year, teaching P4.  It’s hard work and a bit stressful, but very rewarding. I spent years doing jobs that were unfulfilling and that I didn't particularly enjoy. Every couple of years I would move jobs, or try to get a promotion, because I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. Now I’m happy to be doing something that I feel is worthwhile (although I wish I had realised this and acted on it five years sooner).  

My last piece of advice to those who are thinking about doing it is this: Don't worry about preparing for entering the SWAP programme; it is designed to prepare YOU. That's the point of it!


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