Blackboard with molecular equation written and a shadow of children's raised hands

CPD makes career dreams come true

By 07.11.16

By Judith Mckie RSciTech

Working at Whitburn Church of England Academy I briefly started out as a cleaner before I got the chance of a lifetime – being offered a role by the then headmistress as a technology technician. I loved the variety of the work and I helped out in the science department washing up. I progressed to become a science technician and CPD has helped me reach my current role as senior science technician and lead in health and safety within the department.

I also achieved RSciTech status.

In this blog I want to share how my continuing professional development has helped me achieve senior science technician level and professional registration.

Taking part in courses

If any opportunity arises to enhance your knowledge through CPD courses and it is beneficial to your role then it is worthwhile.

One of the courses I have taken was CLEAPSS Microbiology and all courses can be accessed through the CLEAPSS website. I was shown how to adopt the best possible health and safety methods and have incorporated these into our instructions for microbiology work in all areas of KS4 and KS5.

As the new Biology GSCE has a required practical on microbiology, I think this is a worthwhile course to go on as part of CPD for technicians and teachers so that all aspects of health and safety and best practice can be passed onto students.

I would also recommend ‘Skills for new technicians’ as this course provided me with a huge insight into how important a science technician is to a busy science department. This course can be accessed through the STEM Learning website.

Gaining qualifications

Through this I have discovered my passion for science and have developed my knowledge by completing an NVQ level 3 and 4 as well as a GCSE in Chemistry – this is in addition to all of the other qualifications I have already achieved.

I completed the NVQ level 3 to meet a target which was set in my appraisal. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this and I got the course free from Newcastle College. I had a brilliant mentor who said I could then apply to become an RSciTech and became more ambitious after one of my colleagues mentioned I could further my career by becoming a Senior Science Technician.

I looked into this and found out that to manage a team of technicians it would enhance my chances if I completed an NVQ level 4, so that’s what I did. Another target for my appraisal was to study and sit a GCSE in Chemistry which I found very useful in helping me to understand how each practical worked, its outcomes and the health and safety around it.

I have found that a formal qualification is to ‘qualify’ for a promotion. Though it is the training and CPD within these qualifications which make the difference, and especially ‘how’ you make use of it.

Organising workshops

As part of my CPD this year one of my targets was to organise and present a workshop for science technicians. I developed and organised a session on microscale chemistry for teaching staff at Whitburn which has proved invaluable; because of this I decided to organise a larger workshop around microscale and its benefits. With the help of the Teaching School Manager I designed a flyer to send out to other schools to see if they were interested in attending. I also designed and made my own resources with the help of CLEAPSS – who provided me with invaluable advice and details of microscale practical work – and the Nuffield and Royal Society of Chemistry websites too.

I have two apprentice technicians; one has been with me for just over a year and the other has just started on this amazing journey. I can now pass on my best practice and teach these two young people everything I have learnt and show them how important continuing professional development is to achieve your dreams.