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Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan (PGCE 2008-09) was recently awarded joint first prize for the Association of Learning Technologist's 'Learning Technologist of the Year' award. Since graduating from Warwick he has spent two years teaching in a primary school in Birmingham and has just taken up a post as Lecturer in Education at Plymouth University, teaching on the BEd and PGCE programmes.

 When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My earliest ambition was to be an architect, later a doctor, a DJ and a music producer. Recently I have realised that 'what you want to be when you grow up' is a very different question to 'what lifelong career do you want to have?'. Few of us these days will have such a thing, better to look at what you want out of life.

I think we should encourage young people to frame their answers to this question much more broadly.

What was the best careers advice you were given?

"It's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission", that and the entirety of Seth Godin’s book Linchpin.

Describe yourself in three words

Questioning, reflective, driven.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I haven't been doing this job for long but I can see the opportunity to do lots of exciting interesting things is going to make time management one of the biggest challenges.

What have you done that you are most proud of?

Being invited to the Google Teacher Academy, winning Learning Technologist of the year and being given a University post are all highlights. However, I have been most proud when I have seen the children I have taught independently doing great things and consciously making a difference to themselves and others.

    What drives you?

    A love of learning.

    What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?

    Less of a need for sleep.

    What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?

    A boat, fuel, a world map.

    Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?

    I honestly have no idea, but wherever I am I hope to be excited to be there and still learning.

    How would you like to be remembered?

    As someone who changed people's thinking.

    What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?

    Time spent with friends in our curriculum studies group for the PGCE. It was like being back at secondary school and subsequently brought out our teenage sense of mischief.

    Do you have any advice for new graduates?

    Don't over agonise about what you want to do with your life. Pick something that interests you and get on with it. Follow your interests and wherever you end up will be a good place.

    Anything else you would like to add?

    I've always found that if you follow big ideas and projects then the little things you need to get there come along the way. I'd encourage undergraduates to think big, but don't think too much - get started.

    Oliver Quinlan: the facts
    • PGCE (Primary), University of Warwick (2009)
    • BA (Hons) History, University of Sheffield (2006)
    • A levels, History, English Literature, Maths, General Studies, Binswood 6th Form, North Leamington School.
    • GCSEs North Leamington School
    Career: After my degree various jobs working in radio, DJing, music production and events promotion. Whilst these may seem a million miles from education I draw on them frequently as they have given me a diverse experience of work and life. Post PGCE I taught at Robin Hood Primary School in Birmingham for two years before becoming a Lecturer in Education at Plymouth University.
    Interests: I love all kinds of music and still enjoy getting into a studio and producing some electronic tracks. I am also into cycling and looking forward to exploring Devon my bike now I have moved there.


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