“ College of St Mark & St John / Derriford Road / Plymouth / Devon PL6 8BH / Tel: 01752 636700. „
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PGCE interview, Marjons
We were told, as requested by the website and in paper, to revise for certain questions, a practical and critically write about an essay, called the 'winning streak'.
1. the questions told for us to revise did not come up. asked us totally different questions.
2. they hardly watched our practical sessions and did not discuss our results after.
3. the pre seen essay, the 'winning streak' did not come up at all!!
4. in the interview they simply asked, what I thought the difference was between sport and PE and the concepts and processes of PE. They certainly did not ask questions about me, what i am capable of or anything regarding experiences or my capabilities as a possible teacher. All in all, a shit place and im I look forward to rejecting in approx 3minutes time! (its the principle)
oh and they took two months to even tell me I was successful for an interview and expected me to turn up, one week later. We have full time jobs you know! Amateur institution!!!
I graduated from the Marjons (as its affectionately known!) about 4 years ago and I have to say there are many good and bad points about it!
Traditionally it was a teacher training college and one of the best known. However since then it has diversified and now offers a fairly wide range of courses such as ICT, PR, Leisure and Tourism, English etc as well as the teacher training. Many of the courses are sports related and therefore there are excellent sports facilities available, including fields, tennis courts, as well as indoor facilities such as pool and gym.
Its a small college which brings the benefit of having a more family atmosphere and the campus is very close knit. The staff are always helpful and lecturers are excellent. However many of the facilities are dated and could do with updating. Having said that some of the facilities have been recently built with more modern ICT facilities and even some air conditioning!
There is a large library set out on several floors. Within the library there are are quiet study areas and an ICT suite. There is a wide range of books but unfortunately many are out of date or there are not enough copies of popular texts. There are a large number of journals though which I found extremely useful. It is also possible for books to be ordered in from the central library if there is something you need which they do not have. There is also a student book shop near the main entry into the college. They can get any books on your text book list within a couple of weeks(amazon is probably cheaper and quicker though) and they have a reasonable amount of the popular texts in stock. They will also buy back your old text books which is a useful facility.
There are several places to eat and drink. Cafe del Rosa is a 'posh' cafe selling nice but rather expensive sandwiches and bagettes as well as jacket potatoes, chips, pies etc. They also have some rather nice cakes. If you want a basic cheaper option, the dining hall is next door. They sell more standard student grub, greasy but tasty breakfasts etc. There is also the student union bar, 'the sub' upstairs.
Personally I didn't stay in halls so don't know fully what is available. The halls are in several standard blocks with single rooms and en suites. I have been told that they are reasonable. There is also a launderette facility.
For parents there is a nursery on site. I used this for one of my children and found it to be great. It is open long hours and the staff are great. It is relatively low priced too and 3/4 can get free places.
The location of the college is of both benefit and curse. It is set out of Plymouth, close to the moors. It is close to Derriford hospital, the regions main hospital, ideal for those 'college accidents' and the 'one too many' nights. It is also situated right next door to Plymouth Airport, I mean right next door, you can see the planes from the car park!! Parking is a problem there is no-where near enough for the number of people and because of its isolated location most people have cars because the bus service is rubbish! Nearby, well about 5 minutes drive is a large tesco and asda for your shopping needs. Home Park, home of Plymouth Argyle is about 10 minutes away as well as Plymouth city centre.
I enjoyed my time at Marjons. It was friendly and welcoming. The staff were good and I came out with a good degree (not teaching!). However in the past Marjons has not had a great reputation academically. In fact in the late 90's they lost their university status and degrees were issued from the university of Exeter (like mine) but I understand that they are officially a uni once more. If you want a closeknit community feel, more homely and you have a car then Marjon is for you. If you want somewhere close to the action then maybe not.
This time of year students will be looking at a place to study after Sixth Form/College. Most will have filled out UCAS forms and will be hoping that they get into their first choice university. Some students may have never heard of Marjon so I will introduce it in more depth.
I graduated from the college last year and have recently started my masters at Plymouth University so am in a place to compare the two. The College of St Mark and St John (better known as MARJON) has recently gained 'university status' making it the 'University College Plymouth St Mark and St John'.
You may be thinking to yourself already "but why this place I've never heard of surely Oxford or Cambridge is far better" well maybe in terms of academic success however MARJONS was voted in the top 10 for 'Overall Student Satisfaction', 'Academic Support', 'Assessment and Feedback', 'Personal Development' and 'Quality of Teaching'. Only four other institutions ranked higher in more than 5 categories.
The Sunday Times has also ranked the College in the Top 3 higher education colleges for four years running. Choosing a university can be a daunting and expensive experience therefore it is important that reviews are accurate and fair. I have enjoyed my time at MARJON and felt I should write this review to give my honest opinions.
The College of St Mark and St John is a Church of England Voluntary Aided College meaning that the Church help support finance and play a big part in college life. The College of St Mark and St John was formed when The College of St John merged with the College of St Mark in the 1920's (1923 I think!) in Chelsea, London.
The two colleges were founded in the 1800's to train teachers, to this day The College of St Mark and St John is still a famous institute dedicated to Initial Teacher Training.
The College of St Mark and St John moved to Plymouth, Devon in the 1970s later becoming affiliated to Exeter University in 1991. The affiliation to Exeter University meant that The College of St Mark and St John could award degrees through the University of Exeter.
Last year (2007) The College of St Mark and St John received 'Taught Degree Awarding Powers' which basically enables them to award their own degrees. The status change was alittle late for me and I was awarded an EXON degree (Exeter). The university is now known as the University College Plymouth St Mark and St John.
The admissions team were very helpful, I applied to 6 different universities however The College of St Mark and St John was my first option above Plymouth University, Brighton, Sheffield Hallam, Cardiff and Brunel University. I was accepted at all six following gruesome interviews of varying difficulty however I never felt 'right' at the others. I felt like I was already a student at MARJON when I visited on the open day.
The admissions team were great after my interview they sent out regular mail to inform me of open days and events so I could keep in touch with the university.
The entrance requirements were quite low; students only need to get 120 points at A-level to be accepted, I never thought I would fail my A-levels but I was scared about not being accepted. Interviews were a necessity for my course although the interview was daunting it was easier than those at other universities. Don't be put off by this as the standard of work on the course is far from easy.
Prior to my start at The College of St Mark and St John I was taken very ill and admitted to hospital, I knew I would miss registration and fresher's week. I was very upset as the hospital window overlooked the College and I just wanted to start. My dad liaised with the admissions team on a regular basis being able to complete my registration for me. As a result of their helpful nature the start of term was not delayed and I could attend lectures as soon as I was ready. My student loan was also unaffected by this sudden illness.
Last year after confirmation of my degree the admissions team were very supportive in arranging references for job applications and sorting out tickets for my graduation. Thinking back to it now, I can see that Marjon staff went above and beyond expectations. My experiences with my new university are not as pleasant.
I have really enjoyed studying at The College of St Mark and St John due to its self-contained campus. Whilst I lived at home during my degree I enjoyed the fact that all facilities were 'under one roof'. I have stayed on campus for summer schools and really enjoyed the fact that lecture theatres, classrooms, accommodation, sports centre, computer suite, student union bar, food outlets, library and convenience store are on site.
Lecture theatres and classrooms
The lecture theatre is huge and the acoustics are very good. I am hard of hearing and when I use my hearing aid it is great to know that the T loop works brilliantly and I can hear the speaking lecturer very well.
All classrooms are kitted out with 'interactive whiteboards'. I thought the teaching rooms were well adapted to their purpose with science materials in the sciences rooms, electronic robots in the IT suite and A-Z posters and dolls in the teaching rooms. In comparison to Plymouth the rooms are not as modern and do have the original 70's them, despite the addition of modern items.
I have to mention the new drama theatre my first time in this refurbished theatre was my last day at college when I was presented with my award. The drama theatre is rather amazing, with state of the art equipment for performances and productions. I am sure the theatre will rival that of Plymouth University's new theatre.
The accommodation is quite basic, with a single or shared bedroom. All the rooms have washing facilities and a 'built in' desk. There are 6 rooms per 'wing' and have access to a bath or shower with toilet. A kitchen is also shared with a communal living room with television. Students staying in halls of residence must purchase a card which allows them to eat in one of the dining areas this card is approximately £530 but does last 3 years depending on how much you eat in your first year - many of my mates managed to make their last the full four years even if they did eat rabbit food most days. The cost to stay in halls of residence is about £60-£70 a week.
There is also a Student Village situated in college grounds where you can share a two storey house with 4 other students. You would be staying in similar accommodation as the halls of residence however these houses are more cut off from the social gatherings, so if you want a quiet life the houses are probably better suited to you. They are slightly cheaper than the halls of residence I think about £50-£60 per week.
Whether you stay in halls of residence or the student village you will have a final year student who will look after you and advise you on anything you need. They are apparently quite reliable and are available on a 24 hour call system in case of emergency.
The College is very famous for its sports courses and the facilities reflect this. The sports centre has its own lecture theatres and classrooms, three sports halls and a sports science laboratory. The sports centre is also open to the students and public for swimming and sports sessions. I have enjoyed being a member of the sports centre which is very modern with some excellent facilities. A year's membership costs £50 and this price includes the gymnasium, swimming pool, Astroturf and sports halls.
I have used the main computer suite for many ICT-based lessons, this computer suite is well equipped for all courses. The college is also equipped to teach the ECDL advanced course which seems to be in high demand at the moment in Plymouth. Between time-tabled sessions the computer suite is open for drop in session and students can use computers for work purposes with technicians in close proximity in case of any problems.
The Library has been a main gripe of mine since 2003 when I started at The College of St Mark and St John. The books usually dating back to the 18th century when the colleges were first founded are not very useful for a current research project. In comparison to Plymouth University where the books are very current and useful Marjon never had the decent books in stock. The one book I eagerly wanted for the full four years never actually appeared on the shelves.
The library is set out over three floors and is a little like Dr Who's TARDIS, from the outside it looks small but there are many computer suites and reprographics rooms leading off. Library loans, renewals and reservations can be done over the internet if you do not have time to go to the library. The staff are very helpful and if you cannot find something in the library they will order a book in from elsewhere. The library staff run workshops and sessions on 'how to find journals' 'how to search for books' and 'how to cite references' all three are crucial in university.
Student Union Bar (SUB)
As you would expect this room saw a few visits from me and my mates. With a nice little restaurant situated at the top we could spend our 'time off' with a few alcoholic beverages and a burger. The Student union provides some excellent events and this is the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night although I rarely got chance to enjoy the many popular themed nights due to a huge work load!
There are several of these situates around The College varying in style, price and atmosphere. My favourite for a posh lunch was Cafe del Rosa where you could pick up a posh baguette for £3.60 and sit in comfort with an excellent service or go up to the Student Union Bar and pay £1.90 for the same baguette but surrounded by drunken students celebrating almost anything like taking library books back on time!
The Lion and Lamb bar is situated in the sports centre so was often occupied by the 'general public' criticising students for being dossers so I tended not to venture in there if I could help it!
The shop is great really, for those staying on campus in the Student Village you can purchase many microwave meals, bread, milk, coffee, rice etc, alcohol, cigarettes and a limited clothing range. The cash back service was used many a time until they got a free cash machine.
There is no need to get the bus to Waterstones as the book shop sells all course books required for the courses on offer at The College. They have also started buying back books in a good condition to sell second hand. The book shop is open most of the year so new students can get a head start on their course. I used to think the books were quite expensive, however compared to the only other book shop in Plymouth (Waterstones) the books were very well priced.
I was fortunate enough to be living home so never had to visit this room although I am pretty sure it involved washing machines and tumble driers. The price so I was told was great but you need to provide your own washing powder. I was told each was between 50p-£1 so that's not bad really...although I am sure many of my mates chose to buy new clothes and take the dirty ones home each weekend!
For those students returning to study after having children MARJONS does provide an excellent nursery and playgroup. Flying Start nursery caters for children 0-4 years during the day and 5-8 years after school. My mate got pregnant during her course and could only return with the support of the nursery. The nursery have received excellent OFSTED reports and offer free places for 3 and 4 year olds. See http://www.flyingstart.uk.com/ for more info but be warned the website is noisy, it gave me a fright!
I believe these following services should be included in a review, after all it's the services that will make your time at university easier. I believe the support received from counselors, careers advisors, copy shop staff, porters and student union is a deciding factor on which university you choose.
Whether you are struggling with family problems, relationships, members of staff or other issues the counselors are an excellent resource. We met the counselor briefly during a dissertation workshop. If we ever had any issues they would strive to support us in a reassuring way - a very valuable and much needed service in a university especially at any busy or stressful time.
Leaving full time education can be the most daunting experience when you have known nothing else since the age of 5. The careers service provided careers fairs to meet prospective employers. They also agree to support students for up to 4 years after the end of a course. I met with an advisor prior to an interview and although it wasn't what I had expected she gave me the confidence. I know that when I want support they are the other end of the phone and will help. I have also used this service a few times since I left the college and after 3 interviews I managed to get a job. The support is very good and with so many people out of work at the moment a good bit of support from a qualified person can make a lot of difference.
These people are excellent for students with disabilities or lacking confidence. They will help read through assignments and suggest places to look for more quotes. They will support you with improving academic writing and citing references. People tend to think they only support students with disabilities but they are there as a free service to all students to offer academic support and advice. They were a great help when I couldn't find journals for my dissertation and helped with layout two things that I could have failed on had they not helped.
A nurse and doctor visit the campus regularly for appointments concerning illness, sexual health and other issues. They also have a regular dental visit for anyone concerned about dental health. The hospital however is down the hill and is understanding of residents of Marjon.
Copy Shop staff
These people are the ones you see on your last few weeks of University when you hand in your dissertation. I need to mention them as when you get your dissertation bound you don't really expect to make several changes but they did it without any fuss free of charge so without them I would have ended up a rather poor student!
These are the people who deliver your mail to your pigeon holes, quite jolly chaps who never seem to stop whistling. On a wet day they have the ability to brighten up the place. They are often seen after a fire drill frantically waving towels at smoke alarms to stop them beeping or sorting lost students who have lost keys or the codes to access the halls.
The student union are there to stick up for students with any issues, they have often been seen appealing against parking fees, prices of alcohol and food and have provided excellent entertainment.
The College of St Mark and St John offer a selection of BA, BEd and BSc courses as well as the postgraduate courses and masters' degrees. There is a quick list of courses on offer during the academic year of 2008-2009 although I doubt it is changing much for the 2008-2010 academic period.
Courses involving Children, Youth and Community such as Education (PGCE and BA), Youth and Community (BA). The College have great links with local kids clubs and community centre's meaning that the course can be hands on and academic.
There has been a new course added in creative writing allowing you to work towards a Bachelor of Arts. The course has been supported by some famous authors who have visited the College in the past, I am sure that after a few years this course will attract many 'famous authors' from the South West such as Michael Morpurgo so will become a popular course.
The drama course as far as I am aware offers a BA and masters courses. The new drama theatre has been an excellent addition to this course meaning that they can now provide more learning opportunities. I have seen one of the productions by the 2nd year students and was rather impressed by the quality. I get the impression however that if you actually want to be a famous actor/actress you are better off studying in London where the competition is high.
You can also choose to specialise in Education by doing a degree (B.Ed or PGCE) focusing completely on Teacher Training. You can also do a course specifically relating to teaching English to foreign students.
You can do an English Language course which could enable you to progress onto a masters or postgraduate course in Education. Combined with the Creative Writing course I would imagine that they would work well together. The English staff do look rather 'dull' so beware of this.
Due to the vast moorland and Plymouth's history the Outdoor, Environment and Geography course is very strong in the College. Many trips and projects are focused on the local area. Students graduating with a BA in an Outdoor, Environment or Geography course usually go on to work in the local area or complete a PGCE.
As mentioned previously The College's excellent sports facilities boasts and excellent selection of sports courses. Whilst showing prospective students around the college I found that 70% were interested in sports and teaching PE. The courses relating to sport focus on health, sport, coaching and PE in schools.
The newly built (2005/06) Speech and Language therapy teaching building is linked to Plymouth University part of the Peninsula Medical School. The College also run a Psychology degree linked to the Peninsula Medical School.
In addition to the above the College also offers courses in Management, Media, Public Relations, Culture, Philosophy and Sociology. I must apologise but I have heard very little about these courses and wouldn't like to comment on the quality.
CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
Marjon is proud of its many societies and clubs. Most clubs are 'sports based' and therefore MARJON is a very popular college for sports teams. They have men's and women's hockey, football, rugby, basketball teams, as well as surf club, Jujitsu club, sailing club, climbing club, dance club etc.
As a Church of England college they have a Christian Union with a gospel choir and education team who visit schools and present assemblies. The Christian Union also organise several events to raise money and raise their profile throughout the college. They have a prayer society sometimes organising 24 hour prayer marathons.
During fresher's week they hold a fair for new students to join up to the clubs most clubs require a joining fee so it is important to consider whether you have time to commit fully to the activities on offer.
Unbelievably the clubs and the college seem to get a large coverage on local TV and radio, mainly due to their involvement with local companies and schools. The student union involved heavily with the 'Race for Life' every year and has a huge profile locally.
STAFF AND TEACHING
This is one area I thought I should really mention as without the support from my personal tutors, and dissertation tutor I wouldn't have survived life as a student. The personal support I have received has been amazing. I have always been able to get in touch with my tutors and they have always been happy to help. Teaching groups consist of about 15-30 people so the personal touch to teaching is great. I thought it was really important that by the end of the four year course all of my tutors knew my name and knew me as a person rather than a statistic. The lecturers made our lessons fun with interactive lessons, we rarely sat in a huge lecture theatre merely listening to drivel.
Quality of Teaching is high, with staff knowing every student very well. Whilst I was at the College the staff under-went an OFSTED inspection, which was highly successful. The inspection was thorough and looked at areas such as lesson planning, delivery, assessment and the qualifications.
The college are good at planning and implementing a programme which makes them one of the best Teacher Training Colleges in the UK. Assessment standards are high and all assignments are graded with a long positive comment suggesting ways to improve. In terms of other courses quality of planning, teaching and assessment is of a high standard which has led to the college now being awarded university status.
Without trying to sound like a travel agency I will try to tell it as it is, but I don't really have anything negative to say about the South West so here goes.
Plymouth has a lot of history and is a great place to socialise. The Hoe is very ancient with Elizabethan buildings and little quaint lanes. The Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America in 1620 from the Mayflower Steps and the Hoe was also a major part of WW2. Plymouth City Centre was one of the most bombed cities during World War 2 due to its huge links with the Navy, the city is constantly regenerating.
Plymouth is a stones throw away from the beaches of Cornwall so there is plenty to do on a nice day. Plymouth is host to a number of popular bands appearing in the Plymouth Pavilions situated in eth West End of Plymouth alongside several nightclubs, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and a casino.
Plymouth is quite cheap in comparison to London, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds etc therefore you are likely to get a lot more for your money I am often quite surprised when I go up country and see some of the prices of alcohol and club prices so we do actually have it quite 'cushty' down here.
Many people seem to believe that Plymouth is a boring town with little to do however this is not the case. To the East of Plymouth you can stroll amongst the Haunted Moors, to the West you can enjoy the surfing beaches of South East Cornwall or travel a little further to Newquay (the Surfing Capital of the UK).
Or you could visit the home of Plymouth Argyle (Home Park) and support a decent team!
Plymouth is easy to reach by plane, train and coach so there is no excuse to not visit the parents on your weekends off, or them to visit you - In fact the airport merges with the College carpark, so you can become a plane spotter if you wish during boring lectures!
To find out more about the local area try viewing these sites - www.thisisplymouth.com.uk or http://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/
I am feeling quite sad writing this review, as my days at Marjon are all over and I have nothing but great things to say about them - I may have moaned constantly during my time theer buit would be pushed to remember any of them. Whilst sitting in lectures at Plymouth University I feel comfortable but the feel is not as warm and friendly. The atmosphere is not as supportive and encouraging.
Since leaving last year I have never regretted the choices I have made and am proud to say I graduated from the college. It was a major part of my life and will always generate happy memories. I can guarantee that if you choose to study at Marjons the experience will be challenging but very exciting as well.
If you would like more information on The College of St Mark and St John contact 01752 636700 or view the website on www.marjon.ac.uk for up to date information.
The website can tell only one side of the story, so I hope you have enjoyed reading my side of it - even if it does seem so LONG!
Affiliated to the University of Exeter.