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Extended Certificate in Laboratory Skills: Three sciences in one course

Connor wants to inspire the next generation by becoming a teacher. He chose a Cambridge Technical qualification so that he could study three sciences and still leave room for Maths and History.

Connor, Extended Certificate student

“In 10 years, I’d like to have completed my teaching degree and have a full-time teaching position somewhere where I can make a real difference.”

First name: Connor | Age: 17 | Subjects: OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate in Laboratory Skills; AS-level Maths; A-level History

What made you choose the Extended Certificate in Laboratory Skills?
I chose it because I thought it would allow me to explore more options in the future, in terms of science and in terms of becoming a teacher, which is what I want to do. I thought studying science would allow me more opportunities and give me a better chance of being noticed when applying for teaching courses.

And why did you choose your other subjects?
I chose my other subjects, Maths and History, because I want to become a Maths or History teacher, and so I thought they’d give me a good understanding of the subjects I’d like to teach.

When it came to choosing my subjects I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had an idea of what I'd need to go on further and so in the end it was a choice between one science or studying a course that covered all three, and I just thought all three would be better in the long-term. 

How have you found it?
During the first couple of weeks I sometimes struggled to grasp what we were learning – then it just clicked. At first some aspects of the coursework were pretty difficult, and I had to have them explained a couple of times before I grasped them. But at the same time, other bits of it were quite easy. I think part of it was starting science again after the summer – there’s a lot that you forget, so you have to go back over it.

Since then I’ve found that I’m able to do the task if I put my mind to it, and after the first year when we started doing the coursework I found I was actually way ahead of the other students and was able to complete most of the tasks easily.

That moment, when it all started to click, was a massive relief! Suddenly I could answer questions in the lessons, and I could help other people. 

What aspects of physics have you covered in the course?
We’ve covered Hooke's Law, Ohm’s Law, density and material properties. We did a lot of this in the first year. Some of it was recapping what we’d studied at GCSE.

What have you found most interesting?
I found the chemistry parts the most interesting as we explored what the atom was and how it worked, we looked at polymers and monomers and there were plenty of experiments, which I enjoyed.

It was also interesting when we worked with springs when we were studying Hooke’s law. We looked at how far they could stretch and how long a spring could last. It was complex at the start, but once you'd learnt the formulas it was fairly easy to get your head around. 

What do you want to do once you finish the course?
Once I’ve finished this course I’m going to take a year off and work. Then I’m going to apply for university or do an apprenticeship in teaching and make the most out of my education. I find teaching really interesting. I like the idea of being able to pass on knowledge, to help advance things.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I’d like to have completed my teaching degree and have a full-time teaching position somewhere where I can make a real difference. My interest in teaching comes from my sister. She has a little bit of a learning difficulty and I found helping her was a really good feeling. I’d like to help as many kids as I can.

What advice would you give to someone considering this route?
I think it’s easier than it seems at first. If you put the time and effort in, it’s often quicker than you think it’s going to be and there really is nothing stopping you from getting a distinction in the coursework and the exams. There were points when I didn’t know what I was doing and I needed help – but I just asked the teacher and they’d explain it to me. Then I could do it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you don’t understand something.