Shipley College Great People Steph

We have some amazing staff members at Shipley, Steph is one of our T level Education and Childcare lecturers and course coordinator, and completed her teacher training here at Shipley! We asked Steph about her route into teaching at the college and why she thinks it's a great place to work:

'I have worked at the college for 3 years, I started in September 2020, and I am a T level Education and Childcare lecturer and course coordinator. My role involves teaching, planning for exams, accessing students on placement, marking, and everything else in relation to the T Level.

My favourite part of my job is training the students and getting them ready for the workplace! Seeing their potential and envisaging what they could do in the future is a great feeling and when they have their lightbulb moments or seeing them passionate about the subject when they realise the route or path that they want to go down it’s really special. Being in the classroom is definitely my favourite thing, you get to try new innovative ways of teaching and can try them out on the students. 

I started working in education in 2016. I worked maternity cover as a Learning Support assistant at a secondary school for 6 months which got me through the door. I had no qualifications in education at that point. I then worked at a Primary School for 5 years. I started as a one to one teaching assistant where I worked with an NQT who was very inspiring and made me think maybe teaching was for me. I hadn't got the A level so when I had applied for my primary teaching degree before I hadn’t got in and I thought that this path wasn't for me but it had always been at the back of my mind. Working with that NQT gave me the push I needed so by October I had applied to the Open University to do education studies in Primary. Over the course of working at the school for about 3 to 4 years I was also doing OU study to be a teacher so working during the day and then going home to study. At the same time as building up experience. I started as a one to one teaching assistant then moved to a class teaching assistant then to a cover supervisor then to a HLTA. I started teacher training during covid but decided to make the move to apply for the trainee teacher position here after I saw it advertised on Facebook! 

When I applied for the trainee teacher role at the college I had a BA Hons in education students primary and then experience and knowledge I had gained over the past few years working in the schools. Ultimately it was the experience I had and the knowledge I'd gain through practical experience that got me the job alongside the degree I had earned at the Open University. It's ok to work in other places and you can use those skills for new roles! There are different routes into teaching. My degree didn't come with QTS hence needing to do the teacher training. After completing my training whilst teaching at the college I now have a PGCE in Lifelong Learning. Depending on what level you come through the door at, whether you have a degree or not, because like I say you don't have to, it depends which teacher training qualification you do. It's ok to be in industry and not have a degree. 

I was working in the college and then doing my teacher training alongside it. Ultimately you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. I saw PGCE as an opportunity that I otherwise might not get and I was able to do it in a supportive environment. The college makes the PGCE, with how supportive the tutors are, the general feel of the college, you’re working alongside colleagues who’re also doing the teacher training. The fact you’re doing it whilst training on the job makes a huge difference. It can be challenging but the key skills you need to be a teacher, organisation, time management , if you have that anyway it is possible. 

I decided to go down this route rather than going back to uni because it was a no brainer! Why wouldn't you do it on the job? I’m immersing myself in it everyday and constantly seeing the links that you’re making, things you've studied on the course and making links in the classroom. In terms of going back to uni, some people at a certain age may not want to go back to uni so if you can do it on the job it's like two birds with one stone. It was an easy decision - do it whilst working and have support in place. Also the fact I was paid whilst doing it had an influence, it can be quite scary being in industry, working and then thinking you might have to take a pay drop or take out student finance and stress about how you’re going to fund going back to uni. You want to pursue your passion and this way you get paid whilst doing it. This route means I could get to the role I have been striving for and without this I don't know if I’d have been able to do it. 

In terms of working in FE I'll be honest, at first I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like but as it stands I wouldn’t want to teach any other age group. 16 to 19 means the students are picking a course they’re passionate about and that can be half the battle in other education settings. In FE they’re chosen to come here and have chosen the course so you have them on board with something they are generally interested in. I like that they’re young adults and they’re at a stage where they have an idea on what they want to do. You’re ultimately the stepping stone between what they do next as their career choice. The students are what make being in FE so exciting. They know how they learn and what they want. You are the last role model before they move onto employment, uni, apprenticeships, traineeships etc and you’re the last person who can change the experience they may have had previously and can turn around their thoughts on education. 

There are loads of benefits to working in FE, one of the most obvious being the holidays! We have a free gym, reduced train travel, and support with professional development. The worry is that you can come out of industry where you may be at a high level and have to start at the bottom but there's loads of opportunity for progression. Also doing CPD, if I asked my Head of Sector if I could go on a course to help benefit myself and improve my knowledge I know he’d be up for it. You’re taking the brave step to come out of industry and you can worry that after a while your knowledge will be out of date but you’re coming to somewhere where they will continue to support you with that. 

These trainee teacher schemes give people the chance to come out of industry and get into teaching. Your interview is to get onto the PGCE and get the job as a trainee teacher at the same time and the fact that the college pays for your qualification is almost like an ‘I believe in you’ from the college. They’re already saying they will support you and are willing to help you on that journey. 

By doing the teacher training on the job it means that you’re also doing the qualification alongside your colleagues, even though you’re teaching different courses you’re all going through the training together so you can see how each other is getting on, you don't always get that in other places because you may only see your ‘classmates’ when you’re going in on a uni day so from that point of view you’re also getting to know other colleagues. 

Without it sounding cheesy, Shipley College is the best place I've ever worked. In terms of how it's managed, the friendly staff, the feel good atmosphere and the supportiveness. It's that feeling when you walk through the door that you’re in a place that's going to look after you and help you to develop. That’s not something I’ve had anywhere else'.

Want to join our team of ‘Great People’? See all of our current Shipley College vacancies here.


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