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#CareerCrossroads and a new decade dawns

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As a new decade dawns, could there be brighter prospects on your horizon?

As we welcome in another new year, many of us find ourselves wondering whether the time is right to take on a new challenge. We often find ourselves talking about being stuck in a rut and January can be a brilliant time to galvanise those feelings of wanting to make positive changes in our lives.

One of the biggest changes we can make is in our career path. If you’ve ever wondered about teaching as an option, now is the perfect time to discover if this could really be a feasible choice for you.

Here at Liverpool John Moores University, increasing numbers of our Teacher Training students have decided to take the plunge and make a career switch, moving from a wide range of roles to join a profession where they can have a direct impact on the next generation.

Chatting to these students, they talk enthusiastically about the renewed sense of purpose which working with children and young people has given them, and the job satisfaction they find in making a difference to their pupils’ lives.

So, if your New Year’s resolution was to explore teaching as an option, what might you need to know?

Teaching is a graduate profession*, so a degree is essential, but not necessarily firmly in the subject you want to teach. For example, on our Science and Mathematics programmes, we have successful student teachers with degrees (and sometimes previous careers) in Engineering, Accountancy and Pharmacy.

If you need to refresh your relevant subject knowledge or plug gaps from your undergraduate degree, there’s a range of fully funded Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses of varying lengths, available online (with a £200 per week bursary).

You’ll also need GCSEs in English and Maths (and Science too for Primary) at Grade C/4 or above, but if you currently don’t have these, there are equivalency tests which can be taken and accepted instead.

Leaving any job to retrain is financially demanding but many Secondary subjects now offer bursaries, with high demand subjects offering up to £34,000 tax-free, paid monthly over the course of the programme and as early-career payments. All student teachers are also entitled to access Student Loans through Student Finance England.

If you have the support of an employing school, Liverpool John Moores’ School Direct Partnership also offers an employment-based Salaried Route into teaching. This enables student teachers to work as an unqualified teacher while they train, becoming fully qualified with a PGCE at the end of the school year. This route has enabled a significant number of Teaching Assistants to make a successful move into teaching, without leaving the school in which they work.

All teacher training courses are a balance of university and school-based learning and experience. But whichever route you choose, at least two thirds of your time is spent in schools.

If you are worried about being a mature student, life experience is genuinely valued on our programmes and by our Partnership schools, and if you’re worried about standing out amongst a sea of younger recent graduates, you might be surprised to find out how many of our students move into teaching later in their working lives.

So if you want to join the increasing number of career changers in teaching, like ex-LJMU trainee Tony Grogan (who features in the latest government Get into Teaching TV campaign, after leaving the army to become a history teacher), now could be the perfect time to do it! Why not make that New Year’s resolution happen?

*If you’re looking for an undergraduate qualifying degree, check out our BA (Hons) Primary Education QTS programme.

You can find out more by:
• Visiting the Get into Teaching Website – getintoteaching.education.gov.uk
• LJMU School of Education web pages – ljmu.ac.uk/teach
• Contacting us at education@ljmu.ac.uk

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5 February 2020 at ljmu.ac.uk

Having been in the military for almost 24 years, Tony Grogan was ready to take on a new challenge. Excited by the prospect of helping the next generation achieve their goals, he embarked upon a career in teaching.

For me, it was the right time in my life to change career and take on a new challenge. Teaching presented the opportunity to do something that was rewarding and genuinely made a change to my community and wider society. I have always tried to have the ethos of making a positive difference and in teaching you get to do that on a daily and hourly basis in every lesson.

Tony gained his teaching qualification aged 45 with LJMU and our School Direct Partner, Turton School in Bolton, where he has been teaching a range of pupil age groups from Key Stage 3 through to A level for two years now. Moving from a career he was comfortable with to something completely different wasn’t without challenges. On his first day in front of his class of pupils, he experienced a full range of emotions:

I was nervous that I would not be up to the job and the students would see through me, or not take me seriously, however that was outweighed by excitement for the profession I was entering. By the end of that first day I was pleased, proud and exhausted, but ready for more.

LJMU gave me the confidence to face the classroom early in my training year and make progress quickly. I remember my University tutor often saying, ‘You are not a trainee teacher, you are a teacher undergoing training’. That gave me huge confidence.

But like any on-the-job training experience, not every day is smooth sailing no matter how prepared you are: There was a moment during my training that I felt a lesson had been awful. I felt deflated, confused and couldn’t understand what had gone wrong. It is at those points your mentor steps in and I remember the 6pm call reassuring me it was ok, it was normal to have those lessons and that I would learn more from that than I ever would from a bland ‘ok’ lesson. Those words were true and whilst, thankfully, never a regular occurrence, I did learn much more when the lesson went slightly off track and I had to work hard to bring it back.

The relationships with students can be rewarding, seeing them grasp complex ideas, forming their own ideas and then articulating them to you is amazing.” 

Surprisingly, Tony’s vast military experience comes in handy when it comes to teaching pupils.

My military experience taught me never to see the obvious answer, always to dig deeper and look under the surface for the real answers. It has also taught me to recognise that we are all facing challenges every day and that includes students. Teenagers are simply doing their best; they might make what appears to be irrational decisions in the classroom but when you pause and look closer, their reasons become clear.

Simply listening and allowing students to express themselves can have great results.

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