Gabrielle Jondet is originally from Melbourne, Australia, but she’s lived in Edinburgh for nearly 20 years. She had a wide range of experience in the retail, food and hospitality sectors and had been involved in supporting various food related voluntary projects before deciding to embark on a postgraduate qualification in Home Economics at QMU. She is passionate about the subject of food, and sharing this this knowledge with the younger generation and the wider community, so the PGDE is proving to be a great fit with her love of food, nutrition and the food industry and her enthusiasm to continuously develop her knowledge in this important area.
Tell us a bit about what you were doing before you came to QMU. What work roles have you had? Why did you decide on a change of career?
I have a wide range of experience in the retail, food and hospitality sectors; working for a variety of businesses including the private and charity sector, start-up businesses, and independent multi-site family companies. I have experience with business at various stages of their life cycle, from start-up and expansion to business closures.
This included working with the Scottish deli company Peckham’s for many years, initially as a Branch Manager, and later in HR and Operations. I have also worked on a range of projects; developing a Retail Merchandising Guide with the Soil Association for UK independents, and supporting a successful retail expansion project with Edinburgh’s oldest Health food shop, Hanover Health. My volunteer work included involvement in the ‘Eat Better, Live Better’ project as a parent helper, and undertaking board work with Edinburgh Community Food. I was also involved with the management committee with the One World Fair Trade shop.
Before starting the course, I worked with a local childcare company, Daddy Daycare Edinburgh, as an office facilitator, supporting food training and systems where needed. I really loved working in this role, but when I read about the Home Economics course at QMU, it really linked in with my love of life-long learning, and I wanted to share my experience with the next generation - something I have always been passionate about.
What attracted you to the teaching profession?
I have always enjoying sharing my love and knowledge on food and the interconnected areas of this industry. However, as I became involved in the wider food environment outside of food retail, I appreciated that the education system offers such a strong resource in the form of the Home Economics department, and I wanted to become involved in this. I love working as part of a team, and therefore hoped that my skills would be best utilised in supporting the education of the next generation.
What is it about home economics that interests you and why do you think it is important for young people and society in general?
Like so many Home Economics teachers, I loved the subject at school. I feel lucky because whenever I tell people I’ve been training as a Home Economics teacher, they always smile and tell me how much they loved the subject! There is also a strong awareness of how important knowledge of nutrition and the role of food is in our lives, and I love being part of this. Home Economics brings together so many key areas of our lives, and is so relevant to the challenges of nutrition, health, sustainability and climate change, and the future for society and young people.
What are the things you really love about home economics?
I have always had a passion for food and cooking, and also really enjoying working with textiles from a creative perspective. I hadn’t appreciated the growth of childcare as a subject within Home Economics, which tied in really well with my professional experience and interest in child psychology. I love the sustainability focus that these areas have now, and the interconnectedness of the subject area.
How do you see home economics fitting into the lives of today’s young people? How will it help them to become healthy, engaged citizens?
There’s so many areas of Home Economics for people to explore and engage with - I believe it’s at the core of the lives that we live today, especially with regards to health and wellbeing.
The Course Experience
What areas of the course have you enjoyed this last year?
I’ve enjoyed so many parts of the course, as they all offered different perspectives and angles of teaching - I can’t believe how much I’ve learnt in the last year!
What have the challenges been?
Returning to learning after a long period away doing other things was a challenge, as well as learning online which was a new area for me. As things changed with the pandemic throughout the school year, trying to juggle family life, home-schooling and learning to teach online simultaneously as a student teacher was really challenging. I felt fortunate to have strong support in my personal life, as well as my peers, and the overall support of QMU’s PGDE team.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned recently?
That we can do anything if we all work together and support each other.
How has the course stretched you?
The course stretched me academically and emotionally - it was such a year of change and growth. The course from the start really challenged my perception of education, and how complex the area of Home Economics is.
How have you juggled study with other personal commitments?
This has been the most challenging part due to the lockdown in the middle of the course, which affected placements and childcare. There is really good support available at QMU, and lecturers were really available - one thing I learnt throughout placement and academic studies was - ask for help, it’s a strength, not a weakness!
What have been the memorable moments of the practical side of the course?
Making the final part of the quilt was a really joyful moment, as was going in to do the various cookery components - the initial and final campfires and sharing food together with the class group and lecturers was really lovely.
Have you used any support services at QMU to help you with study and learning?
Yes, the team from the Effective Learning Service came and gave us a talk prior to completing our Literature Review, and I also used its service to learn more about essay structure and writing – it’s really a fantastic team, and the staff were so supportive and knowledgeable.
What top tips would you give other students who are thinking about embarking on a career in home economics?
Do it! You won’t regret it. It’s such an incredibly important subject, and you’ll be joining a wonderful community.
"There is really good support available at QMU, and lecturers were really available - one thing I learnt throughout placement and academic studies was - ask for help, it’s a strength, not a weakness!"
[story added July 2021]