Career Changers

If you're thinking of changing your career, look no further. Channel your inner passion and experience and get into teaching. Read more below to find out how our students, who changed their careers, took a leap of faith and decided to start their journey into teaching.

Elizabeth Kershaw, BA (Hons) Applied Education Studies Graduate

My previous career was in employee communications, I was head of internal communications at Hilton Hotels for 9 years and then I spent some time freelancing Elizabeth Kershawfor companies including DSGI plc and the BBC where I was employed to write internal and external website copy for different departments. After a sudden, but major, illness I stopped working for a while to recover. One day, after dropping my 5 year old daughter to our village first school, the head teacher asked if I would be interested in volunteering to support children in the year 3/4 class. I enjoyed supporting the children very much and couldn’t imagine going back to my old career. After a while I took a permanent paid role as a class TA, then received HLTA status, before eventually becoming an unqualified teacher at the school. In 2016 the school secretary gave me a poster advertising the university’s BA (Hons) Applied Education Studies course as she thought I would be interested. I did not get a degree straight from school, so felt I’d missed the boat at the age of 48. I was excited to see that the course was part time, had a daytime option and the timing of the lectures would enable me to drop my children to school and pick them up at the end of the day. I attended an open evening at Putteridgebury with my head teacher who encouraged me to apply.

That evening gave me everything I needed to know and confirmed that this was the course for me. I can honestly say the last four years have been some of the best of my life. I enjoyed the whole course. The tutors were fantastic, the support from them and the university was outstanding and the knowledge I’ve gained, and been able to implement in the classroom, has been invaluable. The other students in my group were a very friendly and supportive group. We are a mixed bunch of people of all different ages and backgrounds, but we are all determined to stay in touch and meet up when we can. I would not have missed this experience and am so glad that I applied. I’m looking forward to my final grade and the career I hope to have going forward.

Charlotte Magnay, PGCE Secondary English Graduate 

I was 25 when I started my career as a secondary school English teacher. Previous
to this, I had graduated from university at 21 and embarked on a graduate scheme Charlotte Magnayin retail management, working for an international brand. I progressed to a general manager, which gave me some invaluable experiences that have definitely helped me as I am entering the teaching profession. The aspect I enjoyed the most was coaching younger managers and helping them to achieve their goals.

I was nervous to leave my career to start a completely new one. I was also nervous to return to university as it had been a few years since I had written academically. However right from the interview day, the Teacher Education school demonstrated how supportive and positive they are, and my nerves changed to excitement. The structure of placements and university days appealed to me, as every Friday I was able to catch up with other trainees and we could share tips and advice, and I had the opportunity to talk with my tutor face-to-face about any worries or questions. We also had lectures, conferences and workshops where we could network with trainees from other subjects.

I am now teaching a subject that I love, and I am able to share that passion with the students I teach. As a career changer there have only been positives; I had more confidence in the classroom and in my professional decisions than I would have had at 21, and I have been able to draw on previous experiences and skills to help develop my own teaching practice. Despite the initial worries of changing careers, since stepping into a classroom I have never looked back.

Alison Goddard, PGCE Secondary Art and Design Graduate 

Redundancy in March 2019 from a 19 year design career in fashion retail sparked some soul searching and in May 2019 I started on my teaching journey. A UCAS Alison Goddardform I never thought I’d ever need to fill in again, a search for qualification certificates (no-one in industry has ever asked to see them!) and a great week of secondary school experience gave me an insight into the teaching world and it wasn’t as scary as I thought, for a start, most of the kids seemed nice!

The Bedfordshire University course appealed because of the 1 day a week structure with Mon – Thurs spent in the placement school and Friday to share with course mates experiencing exactly the same thing. There were other mature students on the course too and I have made some great friends, learning to teach is a very bonding experience and whether you’re 44 or 24 you’re all in the same boat!

2 weeks of lectures and practice teaching prepares you in some way for teaching but supportive mentors in school are, I think, key to feeling confident standing in front of a class of 30+. I think teaching your first full lesson will always be memorable, in mine I drew a giant nose on a whiteboard with a permanent marker instead of a whiteboard pen (we were learning portrait drawing), to my relief one of the pupils said he’d seen this before and removed it in no time!

Learning 30+ names is a challenge, planning a lesson and a fire alarm going off is limiting, having a class of well-behaved kids drawing one week and then adding paint into the mix the following week and they go a little bit crazy. Everyday teaching will be different, some kids love your subject, others don’t, I feel like every lesson you are a coach, a motivator, a negotiator but most of all someone passionately believing and delivering a great learning experience. A year ago I didn’t have a focus and now I have a new job with new exciting possibilities.

Nicola Kay, PGCE English Graduate 

Before I decided to change careers into teaching, I worked for a large corporation as a Buyer. I did love my career, from developing supplier relationships to assessing Nicola Kayhouse building plans, it was something I was both interested and developing in from both experience and professional qualifications. However, I reached a point where I felt that I needed to pursue my teaching ambition that I had put on hold years before. After my BA in English Literature I needed to live life, so, I worked, bought a house, went on holidays, and enjoyed living comfortably. But however much I loved my job, I knew it wasn’t what I was always meant to do. I started to really consider making a career change and weighing up the pros and cons, and I found a lot of the cons were just my worries: ‘Can I still write academically? How do the skills I have developed in my current role transfer?’. The pros outweighed this, making a difference, pastoral care of children, a constant development of my own learning. And those worries were completely unfounded. You fall back into essay writing like riding a bike, and there are workshops and academic advisors to help with any struggles.

The skillset you bring with you as a career-changer is also invaluable, my experience of professionalism, building relationships, developed work ethic, problem solving, and further IT skills proved immense use to both the course and teacher standards. At 26 I am now about to qualify as an NQT with a high-level academic pedagogy and vital experience of working with schools and pupils where I was able to make an impact straight away, thanks to the support of the University of Bedfordshire behind me in making one of the best decisions of my life.

Sarah Thurley, PGCE Secondary Maths Graduate

Before training as a teacher, I worked for 17 years in the world of data science in marketing agencies. Most recently I led the team that analyses the success of Tesco’s direct marketing (customer contact) in the UK.

My enthusiasm for teaching stemmed first from an interest in career guidance, partly from my experience nurturing graduate analysts but also believing that young people should be more aware of more niche industries in order to focus their studies. I also recognised a need in my industry for more data-literate graduates, not only to fill the more technical roles, but also the client-facing roles where results must be communicated. Over the years my thoughts shifted towards teaching maths as I realised how my skills and experience could be best put to use.

Teaching couldn’t be more different to my experience in the private sector. Both roles are rewarding, the private sector more through career progression whereas teaching to me is about the everyday successes of your students. Both roles can be stressful, but teaching is meaningful and purposeful and so the pressure feels justifiable. Teachers appear more serious, but rightly so as the role of a teacher is highly accountable; rather than a client’s P&L being at stake, it is the children’s welfare and their future. Teaching can be less sociable than other roles when the majority of your day is spent interacting with students, but the work-life balance is much improved. As a trainee teacher I work long hours, but the experienced teachers I have worked with took proper lunch breaks and worked hard in the term so that they could make the most of the holidays. The holidays are bliss, not only for spending time with your family, but a job with regular, long breaks to relax and collect your thoughts cannot be rivalled.

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