It takes a lot more than just academic credentials to become a great classroom leader, and that's why we place a high value on experience. In fact 22 per cent of our participants who started our Leadership Development Programme (LDP) this year came from other careers.
What were you doing before you joined the programme?
I graduated a number of years ago, in 2007. I worked at the House of Commons as a parliamentary researcher for David Davis, who was a former Shadow Home Secretary, for three years and I enjoyed the job immensely. I'm very passionate about politics, but I wanted to become a teacher. I believe that a lot of the challenges and issues that this country faces are challenges and issues that are played out in schools every day. I wanted to be at the forefront of that..
What challenges have you faced?
It definitely has been challenging, because schools can be challenging places. I've probably never worked as hard or dealt with as many issues and problems in any of my previous roles, but I love being a teacher.
A school is an incredibly fast-paced, dynamic working environment. A place where no one thing is the same and no day is the same. You are dealt a number of challenges on a daily basis – positives and negatives, sometimes in equal measure. You learn so much from the children around you, from other staff, from their families. It's a brilliant working environment.
What impact have you had?
I love it when children get that lightbulb moment, understanding something they previously couldn't do or found challenging, particularly with the children I work with who speak English as an additional language. When they first come to the classroom they may not speak a word of English, and over a very short space of time you see them conversing with their friends, reading books, and doing things in the classroom they could have never imagined doing when they first arrived.
How has Teach First supported you?
My wife gave birth to our first daughter two weeks into the Summer Institute at the start of the Leadership Development Programme (LDP), so that wasn't exactly perfect timing! But as a career changer I haven't really experienced many problems or issues about changing roles or taking a pay cut. One of the advantages of the LDP is that you get paid a salary from the start, and your PGCE is funded by Teach First. Through a lot of other programmes and schemes that support is not there.
Would you recommend Teach First?
I would tell somebody who was thinking about changing careers and becoming a teacher to go for it. Teaching is a wonderful career path and it gives you lots of different skills that are transferable to so many other workplaces. It gives you a qualification to be able to teach for the rest of your life, not only in this country, but internationally as well. And there's so much difference you can make to the lives of young people.