GUEST BLOG: The teachers who inspire us

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by the Education and Teaching Foundation

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge” – Albert Einstein.

All of us can look back on our education and training and find at least one teacher who inspired us to change the world – and like Albert Einstein become the best we could.  It is these teachers who are so passionate and knowledgeable that are needed to encourage students in the critical subjects of maths and English.

With incentives of up to £30,000 now available for new teachers – Further education could now become the top career choice for maths and English graduate teachers.  Is this all that it will take to attract those teachers that are needed to grasp the challenge of GCSE low pass rates in these subjects?

Around 40% of 16 year olds are still failing to get a Grade C in GCSE maths or English as they leave school. That’s not good for individuals’ life chances, nor for the country’s economic and social well being. Hence the new requirement that all young people who lack a GCSE in maths must continue to work towards it.

But why are more teachers needed? Research by the Education and Training Foundation shows that more than 25 per cent of experienced, qualified teachers in the FE sector are approaching retirement and there is a shortage of new recruits. Currently one in three maths teachers aged over 55 has a maths or related degree. That drops to just one in ten for teachers aged 34 or younger.

That’s why the Education and Training Foundation is promoting bursaries and incentives worth up to £30,000 to encourage high-calibre graduates to consider teaching maths in the sector

So why go into teaching? And why particularly further education? 846,000 16- to 18-year-olds choose to study in FE colleges, almost double the number in maintained school and academy sixth forms. “The FE sector has a key role to play in providing the skills that are vital to future employment,” says Helen Pettifor, Director of Professional Standards and Workforce Development at the Education and Training Foundation. “And there are huge benefits for teaching in this sector, aside from the bursaries we are currently promoting.  Teachers who work in FE often say to me that further education in particular gives them the opportunity to be much more creative with the curriculum, and that there is a much greater diversity in who they are teaching whether it’s the age of students age or their personality.  Students who come to Further Education are often more determined to succeed either because they are looking for a career change or because this is their chance to get that vital qualification for their next job.”

Shane Baker, is a recent graduate who has chosen a career as a further education teacher.  He graduated with a first class degree in Youth and Community Work from the University of Huddersfield in 2013.  Shane realised that his talents – and his heart – lay in helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get a foot on the education ladder.  So he spent another year at the University of Huddersfield on an Advanced PGCE course in lifelong learning. He completed his work experience at The Sheffield College and graduated with an ‘outstanding’ grade. This wouldn’t have been possible without support from a government bursary and student finance.

Shane has now been appointed to a permanent teaching job at The Sheffield College. He is looking forward to his future, “Teaching in Further Education offers variety, opportunity and excitement. There’s a whole new world ahead of me”.

If you have a particular aptitude or love for maths, English or special education needs you have the chance to not only benefit financially from the incentives that are available, but to enjoy the rewards of inspiring students to believe in themselves and achieve their best. Teaching is more than a job, you are giving students the skills that will touch their lives forever.

To find out more about how to become a teacher in FE or the bursaries that are available you can click here www.feadvice.org.uk and to find out more about the work of the Education and Training Foundation – www.et-foundation.co.uk

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