Career Choice: English Teacher

14 February 2014

By Lauren E. White

We’ve spoken to Graphic Designers, Copywriters, Paramedics and more – but now, we take our quest to discover more about the career world even further! We were very eager to rack the brains of an English teacher working in a state comprehensive school so we could find out exactly how you get into the teaching profession.


What made you want to become a teacher?

It was by accident really. I did an English degree and wanted to go on and do an MA in Renaissance Art History, I had a place but no money. I was sitting in the pub just before we finished and lots of my friends had signed up to do a PGCE as there was a teacher shortage and they were paying Graduates to train and teach. I got a place on the English PGCE, go paid to do the course and got my student loans paid off by the government…bargain! I also found out I really loved teaching, especially working with kids who had challenging behaviour or found mainstream school a struggle.

I never did my MA in the end!


What did you study at university?

I studied English Literature and Film.


How did you decide which university to go to and which course suited you best?

I ended up not getting the grades to go to the uni I wanted (Manchester) so got a place through clearing at Aberdeen. I couldn’t wait to leave home, and was happy to give Scotland a go.  I had a good time up there, I ended up getting a Summer job in London working for a wine company, and I fell in love with London and decided to drop out of uni. I ended up going travelling round India and transferred my degree to Queen Mary College at London Uni.


How long did your training take?

3 year undergrad degree, 1 year post grad and various other post grad courses that I need to finish!


What is it that you specialise in and why did you decide to teach it to young adults?

I ended up teaching some quite challenging kids in the East End of London, I did a lot of literacy classes with kids who struggled and enjoyed it. I worked with some brilliant teachers and teaching assistants and learnt a lot from them. I ended up teaching in Hong Kong and really missed working with kids with SEN and SEBD, so when I returned to the UK I got a job setting up a curriculum for students who were non-attenders, it was very successful. Our programme expanded and I ended up in charge of a project working with kids who had low attendance and expanding the courses we offered, also did a lot of outdoor ed.


How does your education compare to the one you give to your students?

My education was very different. I grew up in rural Suffolk and my parents worked abroad a lot. I ended up at an all girls school in Cambridge, which I hated, then I went to boarding school. I never liked school much and was happy when I could leave at 16 and go to sixth form. My education was different though, I was very lucky, my school was well funded, had a sports centre and swimming pool and was set in an old country house with lots of grounds around it. So different in lots of way from Gateshead. However, I think the students I work with get a much more interesting curriculum, my teachers were very old school chalk and talk, which was  a very boring way to learn.


What part of teaching makes the hours you put in worthwhile?

I love seeing kids make progress and surprise themselves with what they can do. It’s great watching young people build up their confidence and achieve something new. I like bumping into former pupils too and hearing about what they have done with their lives. The time teaching can be completely draining but fun too, I learn a lot from some of the young people I teach.


If you could change one part of your job, what would it be and why?

I’d get rid of Micheal Gove as minister for Education and replace him with someone who actually likes children, teachers and parents. There’s too much change happening too fast and in the wrong order. We need to be careful not to push those young people on the fringes of education away.



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