Joe Nicholson on using real-life careers experience to benefit students
Entrepreneur and former COO, Joe Nicholson, changed career to teaching after finding out there was a shortage of computer science teachers. He trained with ARK Walworth Academy and is now a computer science teacher in South London.
"A byproduct of doing my training I fell back in love with my subject, and I now teach my passion to Year 7’s (11–12-year-olds) all the way up to Upper Sixth (17–18-year-olds).
"With all year groups, I use my career experience to provide real life examples in my teaching. However, I’ve really been able to make an impact on Upper Sixth, arranging work experience placements through my network.
"As a career-change teacher, you can provide students with a unique outlook. Teachers who haven’t worked outside of teaching won’t know what happens in the corporate world, and parents can often have a blinkered view of the workplace either through lack of experience or personal/cultural bias.
"This applies to young people too. If they haven’t yet worked, how can they know what an employer wants or what specific jobs entail?
"Everyone sort of knows what a doctor or lawyer or accountant does. Few people know what software engineers, web designers, data analysts etc. do – and I can fill that gap.
I use my career experience to provide real life examples in my teaching.
"One student in particular secured several work placements with my support. They asked me for careers advice, curious about whether a BTEC IT would enable them to study software engineering. To help, I proofread their CV and Personal Statement, and gave feedback on their UCAS choices.
"I was ecstatic to hear they received university offers to follow their dream!
"Previously I have employed lots of people, therefore I have a good appreciation of what employers are looking for and can advise my students accordingly. I also have a large network of ex-colleagues who I can tap into for advice and work experience placements.
"My biggest piece of advice to all teachers would be to ask your students what they want to do and why. You’ll then be able to give bespoke advice to help them get to where they want to be, even if you don’t have experience in that field.
"Now Teach has always been positive about the role that Now Teachers can play, and I've really enjoyed the talks they’ve organised with careers agencies.
I was ecstatic to hear they received university offers to follow their dream!
"A lot of the careers impact is just having older, more experienced people embedded in the workforce and knowing that you can make a difference. "
Matthew Male on helping a student get into Cambridge
Former IT Project Manager, Matthew Male, trained to teach maths with Ark at Oasis Academy Shirley Park. He now teaches at Bexley Grammar School.
"At my previous school, I had a role as a part-time sixth-form tutor. The school was entering its work experience fortnight and one of my tutees had nothing lined up. I asked her what she was interested in, and it turned out to be architecture.
"Coincidently, a friend of mine was the administrator for an architectural firm in Kentish Town, so I arranged a placement for her.
The experience of her time at the consultancy clearly inspired her - and impressed Cambridge too.
"She worked solid on a project for three days. They were absolutely blown away by the quality of her work and told her that she should definitely consider a career in architecture.
"I gave it little thought once I left that school, however, I was delighted to hear that thanks to the amazing support from her hardworking A-level teachers she was heading off to Cambridge to study Architecture. The experience of her time at the consultancy had clearly inspired her - and likely impressed Cambridge too.
"To my knowledge, she is possibly the first student from the school to ever go to Oxbridge, and from my recollection the school didn't have an 'Oxbridge culture'."
Malcolm Kitchen on creating work experience opportunities
Malcolm Kitchen swapped his role as a Director in the finance sector to teach teenagers maths. He trained with ARK Walworth Academy and now teaches part-time at Witchford Village College in Cambridgeshire.
"Whilst working at Walworth Academy, the head of sixth form asked if I could help arrange some work experience in the City, specifically for a promising student – who as I remember hoped to go on to read Economics at LSE.
"Most of my City contacts had retired, but I was able to organise something through a friend of my son, and although the placement was quite limited due to privacy/data security issues the student got to shadow someone at NatWest Markets for a few days.
“I then heard nothing until I recently heard that he had been accepted as a Summer intern!
"I'm now teaching maths at Witchford Village College – a small rural state secondary school near Ely, to the north of Cambridge.
"In my lessons and tutor group, I try to drive aspirations higher: fighting against the attitude (in a top set) that “I’ll probably get a seven, and that’s not bad”. Their brains are the same as a London brain or an Eton brain and there is no reason why they cannot go far.
"I have also been asked to contribute to “Futures” sessions, where the fact they I have been employed in quite a variety of organisations in different roles and have also been involved in employing quite a few people, gives credence to my words of wisdom.
I try to drive aspirations higher.
"As to why I chose to teach at an age where many would have retired, I will quote a passage that I used in a job application:
I have a genuine enthusiasm for Maths and a passionate belief in its value, not only in technical areas but in teaching a structured and logical approach to problems that can be applied in many different fields.
"As career-change teachers, what we can try to do is make up for the deficit of cultural capital that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have when compared with their more middle-class peers.
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