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Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Train to Teach: Going back to school as a career changer – Sally Hunt, Maths Teacher at Carmel College, Darlington

Sally Hunt - Train to Teach

Sally Hunt followed her life-long dream of becoming a teacher after having children, going through a divorce, changing careers and deciding it was ‘now or never’ and retraining. She called the Department for Education’s Teaching Line, found she was eligible for bursary funding and began teacher training in September 2014. Sally passed her assessment with an ‘outstanding’ result in May 2015 and officially started as a maths teacher at Carmel College in Darlington in September 2015.

Sally Hunt
Sally Hunt

As a New Year begins the tradition of people pledging to make big life changes following the festive break shows no signs of slowing, according to new research released by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). To support these career changers, the college is hosting online events and nine Train to Teach roadshows, specifically designed to show what teaching can offer, the routes into the profession and the financial support packages available for those making the change from established careers.

The attraction of a teaching career

I was attracted to teaching initially because I wanted a rewarding career. I wanted to specifically teach maths to see if I could make a difference towards children’s attitudes towards the subject. Of course another big attraction is how teaching hours and holidays fit in with family life.

Advice to those who are in interested in retaining as a teacher, potentially after being away from education themselves for several years

My ITT (Initial Teacher Training) course included a mix of both career changers and those coming straight from formal education. Everyone was very friendly and I didn’t feel any different to those who weren’t career changers.

It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to even investigate whether there was an opportunity for me to teach. I didn’t think I would be good enough, that my qualifications would still be valid and that there would be financial support – I was very wrong!

When I initially phoned the Teaching Line to find out whether teaching would be a possibility for me I was delighted that the process was relatively straightforward and that I was eligible to apply. I would advise those who are thinking about changing their career to teaching to take the plunge and retrain.

I remembered very little maths when I first decided to retrain, but I knew that I loved the subject and was good at it. The training includes subject knowledge enhancement which soon brought me up to speed.

Being eligible for a bursary as a result of my existing qualifications and the difference this made

One of my main concerns was funding during my training year. I am a single parent with three children to support. The Teaching Line explained to me that I would be eligible for a bursary because of the subject that I was planning to teach.

This bursary changed depending on my qualifications. I had to provide Carmel Teacher Training School (where I trained) with proof of my existing qualifications and they organised for it to be paid into my account.

Advice for career changers who are in interested in retaining as a teacher

I would encourage anyone who has an interest in becoming a teacher to at least phone the Teaching Line. I would also recommend choosing a school to train in that is associated with a good SCITT training programme. My teaching school held an open evening so that those interested could come along and chat.

I would also say that there are so many advantages in being a career changer in the teaching profession. We bring a wealth of experience with us. It didn’t make much of a difference that I hadn’t been in education for many years as any additional support is readily available. It is a wonderful and rewarding career and worth the year’s hard slog.

The most challenging and the most rewarding parts of my new role

My job is both challenging and rewarding. By far the biggest challenge was learning how to manage a class of pupils. Class sizes vary as do the abilities of pupils. Each lesson has to be planned to take into account the needs of all. It was a huge learning curve to realise that if a lesson is planned well then behavioural issues are rare.

Now, during my teaching practise I think the most challenging aspect is how to access and help those disengaged pupils. When I can see that a pupil has made significant progress then this is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role. I love the pastoral side of my role. I am a form tutor now and find it incredibly rewarding to be a significant part of young people’s lives.

Finding out more

The first step that I took in becoming a teacher was to phone the Teaching Line. They were wonderful. I would also access the Government’s teaching website.

Online events

• Wednesday 13th January, 6.30-8pm: Funding your teacher training
• Monday 18th January, 6.30-8pm: Managing a career change into teaching: shared experiences
• Wednesday 20th January, 6.30-8pm: Gaining school experience as a career changer
• Monday 25th January, 6.30-8pm: Professional skills tests
• Wednesday 27th January, 6.30-8pm: Support with your application

Face to face events

• Saturday 16th January, 10am: Luton
• Saturday 23rd January, 9.30am: Newcastle upon Tyne
• Monday 25th January, 5.30pm: Derby
• Tuesday 26th January, 4.30pm: Cambridge
• Wednesday 27th January, 5pm: Taunton
• Wednesday 27th January, 5pm: Hastings
• Thursday 28th January, 4.30pm: Hereford
• Saturday 30th January, 9.30am: Bristol
• Saturday 6th Feb, 9.30am: London

Applications for teacher training in 2016 are now open. Visit or call the Teaching Line on 0800 389 2500.

To find out more about the live, interactive events, and to sign up, go to:

To find out more about the Train to Teach roadshow, and to register, go to:

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