The Taking Teacher Further programme, launched in June 2018, is a national programme to attract experienced industry professionals with expert technical knowledge and skills to work in the Further Education (FE) and training sector and support the ongoing exchange between FE providers and industry. Applications for second round of the Department for Education-funded initiative, managed by the Education and Training Foundation close at 12 noon on 15 February 2019.
Two new FE teachers lecturers, Scott Stevenson, Lecturer in Plastering at Kirklees College, and Jamie Ease, Lecturer in Nuclear Engineering within the National College for Nuclear at Lakes College, talk about their move from industry into the FE sector through the first round of the Taking Teaching Further programme.
Before I became an FE teacher, I previously owned a small plastering company based in Oldham, I had between 5-15 sub-contractors/employees throughout the year dependant on the tasks we had in hand. I have been a plasterer ever since I left school in 2005, serving a full apprenticeship with a local plasterer named Gary Ainsworth. At the age of 19, I decided to spread my wings and go self-employed, setting up my own business.
I was first introduced to FE by a friend of mine, whom already worked as a Plastering Lecturer at Kirklees College. Like myself, he had a good plastering business based in the same town and had made the move away from this into the FE sector. Due to the respect I had for him and the knowledge he has in the industry, it was a perfect opportunity to slowly make the transition into teaching with his guidance.
The main motivators for my career change were; to help pass on my knowledge of the industry to the next generation of plasterers, this is something I have always enjoyed doing as I have had numerous apprentices over the years. I was also in drastic need of a whole work life balance rejig, as I was working 7 days a week, 12-hour days for the past 10 years. Working hard is something that comes naturally to me, as it is all I have ever known. I am positive that if I can commit the same passion and effort into teaching as I have to other avenues I have previously gone down, then a career working in the FE sector can only go from strength to strength.
In the short time I have been working for Kirklees College, my main thoughts on the role are that it is challenging yet rewarding. I believe that once I have built rapport with my learners and begin to find my feet in my new role, I will then really enjoy teaching and watching my students go through the learning process. This helps them become qualified tradesmen with the skills and tool set to further their career. This on its own will be extremely rewarding and give me great job satisfaction.
I had been in the engineering industry for 7 years, with my previous job before teaching was as an Industrial Engineer at a control and automation firm., This was a very interesting and versatile role that required a lot of creative thinking and programming. The role was to support engineering design and commissioning projects, mostly via PLC programming and some industrial engineering in terms of sensors and drives. The company had an excellent culture for development, so I was often challenged with new things such as different models of equipment or ways of programming; this made it a fantastic place to work whilst I was reading for my engineering degree.
I was mostly attracted to get into FE teaching by National College for Nuclear (NCfN) – a place where I could potentially make a significant difference to the UK nuclear industry through education and training. But in general, I always had it in the back of my mind after studying my HNC at South Tyneside College. One of my lecturers, Brian Rowe, encouraged me to go and take my education further so I had more choice and prospects in life – specifically this gave me the motivation to quit my job and read for a BEng at University of Sunderland.
Even here I found many lecturers, specifically Mike Knowles, John Davies, Ken Robson, and Zaki Bahrami encouraged me to take education even further, which I did at the University of Birmingham whilst also helping me to get a job at AR Controls. Whilst at Birmingham, I found the director of education, Paul Noman, to be inspiring in his passion for nuclear education, which is why NCfN at Lakes College is where I ended up.
These educators are why I hope to never stop learning; you can always learn more and broaden your horizons. I like to think I can play a small part in helping learners get the life they want through education, like my teachers did.
“Every day’s a school day” – The FE environment is one of continuous change and incremental improvement for lecturers working there, every week I have something to get better at and new targets to meet. I have also found Lakes College to be a place where all staff are properly focussed on helping students. It makes a big difference to know all the people you work with are on the same page with why we do the job. Mostly I am enjoying the fact that I am making an impact on careers and aspirations – to hear a student of yours got their promotion or is just now confident enough to apply for a competitive apprenticeship is to know you and the college have done their job right.