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St Gabriel’s

St Gabriel’s

Head of Psychology

Interview with Mrs Rachel Dadds, Head of Psychology

Can you tell us a little about your education?

Following my A Levels in Psychology, Biology, English Literature and Art, I went straight to University College London (UCL) to study a BSc (Hons) in Anthropology. Upon graduating, I took a gap year where I travelled to the South Pacific Islands and North and South America. When I returned, I moved to London and joined an advertising agency where I worked for almost two years. Following this, I pursued an interest in teaching English as a foreign language, taking a CELTA qualification and travelling to Italy to teach near Genoa and later Venice. I loved this experience and decided to combine teaching and my love for the social sciences, by studying a Social Science PGCE at UCL and later a Masters in Education (also at UCL). From there I worked at a secondary school in Tottenham, before moving to St Gabriel’s in September 2013.

How did your interest in Psychology develop?

Psychology A Level opened up a whole new world of ideas for me and I knew that I wanted to explore the subject beyond what I studied at school from an early stage. I remember feeling surprised that so many issues that interested me were, upon pursuing them more closely, psychology based – both in and out of school, from my choice of books, to casual social debates with friends. These were far-ranging, such as wanting to better my understanding of mental illnesses or considering people’s differing levels of empathy, or levels of motivation.

Can you tell us about students, do they impress and/or challenge you?

Students manage to do both of these things numerous times, almost every lesson!  I am always eager to hear students’ opinions and perspectives on what we are discussing and learn from these myself.  At the same time, I recognise it is my job to ensure each student achieves the best they can, and inevitably this can involve challenge. Each year, I am so impressed to see how much sixth form students have matured and achieved, both academically and personally and am so happy to have been involved in this progression. 

What are the key skills students learn in Psychology? 

A central skill that psychology students become particularly good at is learning to critically evaluate different theories. They also learn to reason using various pieces of evidence to support their own ideas. Both of these skills are central to any University degree where students will have to confidently and convincingly put forward their own take on whatever subject they study.  At university and after, simply describing other people’s views is not good enough – and psychology gives you the necessary skills to go beyond this.

Where have students gone on to study Psychology at University?

Over the past five years, students have gone on to study psychology at the following universities:

University of Bath, Canterbury Christ Church University, Keele University, University of Leeds, University of Leicester, University of London Royal Holloway and University of Winchester.

What careers does Psychology typically lead to?

Psychology is flexible and can lead to numerous exciting careers. In fact, if you are interested in a career in psychology itself, the possibilities are huge: you could be a sports psychologist, educational psychologist or forensic psychologist.  To widen the field, psychology students often go on to become doctors, counsellors, or researchers. Advertising executives, marketing directors or even yes, psychology teachers!

Is there a key message you want to share with pupils interested in pursuing Psychology?

If you are keen to understand all aspects of human behaviour from a scientific perspective, actively participate in your own psychological investigations and gain a fascinating insight into the mind, then psychology A Level is the perfect place to start.