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Q&A

Janet Symonds

Subject Specialist - Computing

What did you do before becoming a teacher?

Before going into teaching I worked in the IT department for a large manufacturing company. Tasks involved user training, project management, SharePoint and website administration and 3rd line support.

Where did your aspiration to teach come from?

I enjoyed the user training part of my role and decided that I would like to become involved in teaching younger people. At the time there was a shortage of Computer Science teachers, and not all schools were able to offer Computer Science as a subject. It seemed such a shame that a subject which is so important to everyday life wasn’t being offered to pupils so I was keen to do my bit to change this!

What is your favourite thing about being a subject specialist with the CTSN SCITT?

I have really enjoyed getting to know the trainees and helping them to develop the skills and knowledge that they will need to succeed in teaching Computer Science. For me it is all about the people and we need more specialist teachers in our area to help enthuse and inspire pupils to develop their interest and love of the subject.

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a computing teacher?

I have loved developing my teaching skills, and subject knowledge in specific areas that are required for the curriculum. I would say the key to a successful lesson when you are starting out is all in the preparation.

The best reward you can get is when a pupil leaves and gives you a card which tells you how they were inspired by you to take the subject to the next level, or study it at university. It is a great career – every day is different, and you get to know so many amazing young people.

Paul Facer

Maths Trainee

What did you do before becoming a trainee teacher?

I spent over 20 years working for a global professional services company advising banks and insurance companies. I started in London but spent most of my career having a wonderful time in central and eastern Europe, living first in Prague, Czech Republic and then Bucharest, Romania.

Where did your aspiration to teach come from?

About four years ago I read an article written by Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times about the shortage of teachers, especially maths teachers, in the UK. She was really encouraging experienced professionals to career change into teaching (a path she herself was following). Having read the article, I found I kept thinking about it: how important having a good knowledge of maths is in peoples’ lives and how damaging a shortage of teachers could be. So, when my family and I decided to relocate back to England to live I thought “if not me, then who?” and took the plunge into a new career in teaching.

What is your favourite thing about training with the CTSN?

I really like the weekly structure of four days in school followed by one day of training. It means you have the immediate opportunity to put into practice what you learn about in training AND you have the opportunity the following week to ask questions about what went wrong when (as sometimes inevitably happens!) things do not quite work out as planned.

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Maths teacher?

Do it! It's not easy, especially if, like me, it has been many (many!) years since you were last in a classroom, but you know that the future lives of your pupils will be better if they can understand maths and that makes the work extremely satisfying.

Dan Griffith

Subject Specialist - Physics

What did you do before becoming a teacher?

I worked outside of education for about 5 years after university, installing and maintaining recording studios. This work took me all over the country (and once to the south of France!) and was completely different from one day to the next – much like teaching.

Where did your aspiration to teach come from?

Whilst at university, I knew that I wanted to teach at some point. I find imparting knowledge to people really rewarding, as well as stoking their interest in areas they knew very little about previously. It probably sounds corny, but being able to have an impact on young people’s lives is very appealing to me.

What is your favourite thing about being a subject specialist with the CTSN SCITT?

On a purely selfish level, working with trainee teachers has made me more aware of my practise and has made me a better teacher. Discussing ideas with trainees is really interesting as they often have different view points from others in school. They have time to really think about their practise, which can sometimes be lost when working full time as a teacher.

What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Physics teacher?

DO IT! It’s great fun! Being able to see students develop (both academically and personally) is extremely rewarding. In secondary schools, this development can happen very quickly indeed. You see students turn from children to young adults in what seems like a blink of an eye.