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From investment banker to Now Teach trainee

Training period: July 2017 – July 2019  Where: Ark Putney Academy
Previous career: Investment banker specialising in mergers and acquisitions

I worked in the City for over 30 years. It was an interesting and challenging job but I’d come to the end of what I was doing and was thinking, ‘What next?’ I wanted to do something totally different. A while ago I became governor of a school in Ealing. It was such an eye opener. I would do learning walks around the school and I’d see how transformational education could be and I thought, ‘I’d like to be more hands on’. Teaching was the obvious next step but I didn’t know how to go about it.

For many years I’d read Lucy Kellaway’s column in the F.T and when she announced she was leaving to teach maths and was also founding Now Teach, it acted as a catalyst for me. In my case it was a long process – I had to get a GCSE in English as I hadn’t studied in this country. I also had to take tests for numeracy and literacy skills, but I’ll tell you what, that was nothing compared to what I’m doing now in teacher training!

I had an interview with the Headteacher and taught a 20-minute lesson in the school. Once my position was confirmed, I spent a week at the school before the end of the summer term, to get used to the processes and the environment. This was followed by a two-week summer school in London with Ark Teacher Training to get ready for September. The course covered the basic principles of teaching, how students learn, as well as strategies for controlling the classroom. We also spent some time on subject study. It was pretty intense.

It’s too early to say if I’m making a difference to my students’ education but I know there’s a real shortage of maths teachers so it’s great to be helping to fill that gap. I think getting a kid to really love maths or to pass their GCSE or to become a little bit more confident in maths will be fulfilling.

Going into teaching has been hugely challenging, I think it’s all about getting kids to learn when they don’t really want to. It’s about laying down the rules in the classroom and creating the right climate for learning.

What’s surprised me is that I’ve really enjoyed the pedagogy of maths. It’s not about your subject knowledge, it’s about how you teach it. As a good maths teacher you can make it simple for your students to understand by breaking it all down. I find that very intellectually satisfying. If you see your students actually get it, it’s exciting.

The other teachers at the school are puzzled by why I’m doing this. I have to tell them that it is not a mid-career move but an end of career move.

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