Why Teach Again?
When I decided to return to teaching, I was confident that I would be able to pick up where I left off. I could teach – and I was good at it! I’d been a Head of Department in three schools, the head of a KS4 school in an FE College and a member of the school improvement team in a Council. I had testimonials from children I had taught. Of course I was employable as a teacher! What did it matter that I hadn’t taught in a mainstream school for any duration since 2004?
A letter from a previous pupil
As it turned out, it mattered a lot. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and it happened that I didn’t know quite a lot about how things are in schools these days. Yes, I had worked in education since 2004 but not at the chalk face. Supply agencies would not register me as a supply teacher and told me I would need 12 concurrent weeks of experience in a school, with a reference, before they would register me.
Hang on a minute, I thought. There’s a national shortage of teachers! Aren’t we missing a trick? National data suggests there are over 300,000 qualified teachers in the UK who aren’t currently teaching. Surely I can’t be the only one trying to return to teaching after such a long break?
So, I started researching. I undertook my own 8 day placement and learned more of how the curriculum had changed, that subject content and terminology had changed, e-technology is huge, text books are rare, marking and assessment is regulated, monitored and incredibly frequent, data analysis is used by all to inform planning – add that to the exhaustion I felt at the end of each lesson after sitting at a desk for ten years! And after those 8 days? I could still teach and felt at home in the classroom, and I had received some updates in house – but this wasn’t enough! I was informed by my placement provider that they would still preference a NQT over me given this was still very limited recent experience.
So, on that bombshell, I recognised there was a need to develop a refresher course for teachers wanting to return to teaching that enabled them to slowly but surely and steadily get back in to the profession, through experiencing their training on a daily basis at the chalk face, in a school, over time, with the support of school staff.
What would the Teach Again programme look like?
Me and my fantastic Yr13 in 2002
I couldn’t deliver the training myself. Research on other return to teaching courses evidenced that not one placed a teacher in a school (applicants had to find their own placements), the required duration was 2 to 5 days, and there was no guarantee of participants progressing in to employment. But then meetings with schools established that they were actually willing to take teachers on placement for up to 12 weeks, would provide a reference, and they were delighted they would have the option to employ the teacher at the end of the programme, at no charge. Meetings with supply agencies confirmed that subject to programme completion and a satisfactory reference, a teacher could expect to be registered as a supply teacher. Pretty much as good a guarantee as one could get!
Who would return to teaching?
Research established that individuals would include those who had left the profession to raise families, provide care, move abroad or had left due to illness, or perhaps had not even entered teaching after acquiring their teaching qualification. Others were returning from teaching abroad, or had obtained QTS after gaining their qualifications abroad but had not yet secured employment. Others were wanting to change phase, for example, primary to secondary, or subject delivered. And then there was me, who had climbed the steps of education strategic management only to find I couldn’t climb back down. I’m not usually scared of heights but to find I actually couldn’t get back down without the help of such a programme drove me to incorporate Teach Again Ltd.
So, the Teach Again programme is open to every teacher in the UK who wants to return to teaching, at a Teach Again school in their locality. Any school can become a Teach Again school. Independent education consultants with experience of advisory work, Head Teacher positions and/or being an Ofsted inspector have been recruited as regional programme administrators to provide support to applicants and schools in their regions.
This is about helping children to achieve, schools to improve, and improving the employability, career and financial position of teachers which will ultimately improve the economy and reduce the teacher shortage.
Did I mention I’m doing the programme myself? Follow my progress in forthcoming blogs!