Several factors influenced me to take up teaching as a profession. My grandad, particularly, guided me to higher education and ultimately into the profession. I was always keen to share what I had learnt with others. I remember my primary school teacher being significant in my childhood, and hoping that one day I could have the same impact on others. With the skills, knowledge, and experience I already obtained at the time, I felt there was definitely an area within education that I could bring these skills to, as the teaching profession is so broad.
The application process was very straightforward. It was exactly the same as applying through UCAS for undergraduate courses. I think it is important for those who are contemplating completing initial teacher training (ITT) after their initial undergraduate degree, that you know you can access student finance to fund the course. ITT courses are one of a few courses that are exempt from second funding.
I studied for a BA (Hons) in Youth and Community Work, a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, and an MA in Education and Youth Work Studies. I lived at home and commuted. I actually received a bursary from the government, as I focused on developing as a SEND specialist teacher. This bursary allowed me to purchase my first home, reducing my worries about my finances, and concentrate on developing my skills as a newly qualified teacher.
The course I studied was very informative and really gave me the opportunity to put theory into practice. I felt that as soon as I had learnt something, I was able to put it into practice, having undertaken a placement throughout my time on the course. This, ultimately, put me in the position to gain and take up a full-time, permanent role in a further education college on completion.
FE for me
I have worked within FE colleges as a lecturer, personal tutor, and assessor, teaching students aged 14 to 70. I have taught health and social care, foundation learning, Jobcentre Plus programmes, and childcare. I recently achieved Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) through The Society for Education and Training (SET), and have moved to an outstanding ‘all-through’ SEND school/college as a post-16 class teacher. I think it is important to know that, just because you qualify to teach in the lifelong learning sector, it does not stop you from working within local-authority-maintained schools if you gain QTLS. If you apply and achieve QTLS on completion of your initial teacher training programme, it has parity with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), meaning you can apply for positions across the profession.
The ups (and downs)
The best thing about being a teacher is seeing students developing, progressing, and meeting their individual targets. It’s the little comments like ‘I get that’, ‘I never knew’, or ‘Thank you’ that remind you that you are making a positive impact. You cannot come into teaching and not expect there to be a large workload and paperwork. You have to be realistic and recognise that teaching in class is just one of the duties of being a professionally qualified teacher. If you do not know the full expectations, I highly recommend you read/research the professional expectations of teachers.
I wish I knew…
I still have a very keen interest in youth work but, for me, there were no opportunities to progress, with the significant cuts to the profession. It has allowed me to continue working with children and young people to make a positive difference to their onset development. I wish I trained earlier as a teacher! The course I undertook was first-class and has allowed me to gain first-class results.
I think I would have liked better careers advice and clearer guidance. Because of my previous experience, I was suggested to focus on becoming a PSHE/citizenship teacher. I think I have found my niche as a SEND teacher. I think it is important to gain some relevant work experience, to ensure you are embarking on the right journey – whether that is primary, secondary, or lifelong learning teaching.
Be prepared for hard work. It will not be a stroll in the park but you will gain a lot of satisfaction from seeing your students develop, and getting to the end of your first academic year – looking back and recognising all the hard work you have put in, which has led to the success. You will learn that what works for one class doesn’t always work for another. You will learn to think on your feet, adapt, and react to the forever changing environment that is teaching.
I love teaching because one day is never the same, and witnessing students achieving what they set out to achieve.