The Covid-19 pandemic has forced all of us to think differently about our own “new normal” once these strange times are over. For some, that will mean thinking about finding a truly rewarding career – with teaching offering exactly that opportunity.
As the UK has come together in the face of adversity, many have found themselves inspired by the sense of pride and community that has sprung up around the country. And that’s a feeling that teachers get every day – with every lesson shaping a life for the better.
From casting to the classroom
Abigail, a primary school teacher in Upminster, is one of those who took a non-conventional route back into the classroom.
“I worked in media for about seven years, in roles like casting, and I absolutely loved it,” she says.” Her last job in showbiz was as a TV agent – but she says she couldn’t “ignore that urge” to get into teaching.
“The idea of working with children and making a difference really appealed to me.”
Abigail was accepted onto a primary teacher training course in September 2018. It was a school- and online-based course, helping teachers conduct lessons with the help of an experienced teaching mentor.
“You’re in a classroom and get to watch what goes on, before moving onto team teaching and then taking the odd lesson on your own,” she says. But whilst it was daunting at the start, Abigail now loves the challenge of teaching.
“Actually being a teacher is amazing, and completely different,” she explains. “That first day, when you step into your own classroom with your own class, it’s an incredible feeling. You feel butterflies, you’re excited, you’re nervous.
“But once you’re in your classroom, you can shut the door, and in front of you are your children. I believe every teacher goes into this career to teach. And once you’re in that classroom with the children, you just do that. You are their teacher, and it’s an incredible feeling.”
Abigail’s story isn’t as unusual as you might think. Many individuals are able to take advantage of a tax-free bursary in selected subjects to train as a teacher, making career switching easier than it otherwise might be.
And as a new teacher, you’ll start on a minimum salary of £25,000 to £32,000 – with plenty of opportunities for promotion into well-paid leadership roles.
Furthermore, the security of a job in a school has also helped Abigail navigate this strange year.
“Security wasn’t the reason I was going into teaching,” she says. “But once I started, I realised I was lucky to have a job where I was very secure. Now, I’ve got so many friends who have lost jobs due to coronavirus, I know how fortunate I am. It’s just really good to know you’re relatively secure.”
“I can’t imagine doing anything else”
Market research carried out earlier this year found that pride and a sense of purpose are among the top career aspirations for students and recent graduates.
That’s the case for 27-year-old Jagpreet, a secondary school teacher in Middlesex. After her A-Levels, Jagpreet returned to her school to work as a part-time tutor – and after her degree, took a post-graduate certificate of education to become a teacher.
Her inspiration came from her own teachers.
“I always knew I wanted a career that was dynamic and different: something where I could make a real difference but at Sixth Form, I had two teachers who really pushed me to achieve things I never thought I could. That confidence was something I wanted to give to others,” she says.
Like Abigail, she found it scary at first – but she loved it from the off. “After seeing first-hand how you can influence students’ lives – not just academically but socially – I dived headfirst into teaching.
“Every day is so different and each one is amazing,” she continues. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Places on teacher training courses are open for September 2021. To follow in the footsteps of Abigail and Jagpreet, you will need a degree plus core competencies in maths and English – as well as in a science if you want to teach in primary schools.
The Get Into Teaching website is a great resource for those looking to get into teaching, with experienced advisors available to give free support and advice.
To find out more visit getintoteaching.education.gov.uk