Talent to Teach in FE: EKC Group and Fida Hussain

Simon Bigrigg (above, left) is Head of the Academy Fida Hussain (above, right) is a PhD research student
Simon Bigrigg (above, left) is Head of the Academy Fida Hussain (above, right) is a PhD research student

The EKC Group is a major educational institution serving communities across the East Kent area. It has colleges in Broadstairs, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Sheppey. The Teacher Academy recruits and develops teaching staff from industry, especially in hard-to-fill curriculum areas. Simon Bigrigg (above, left) is Head of the Academy. Fida Hussain (above, right) is a PhD research student researching the development of security frameworks with domain knowledge for smart homes. He graduated with an MSc in Computing and has five years’ experience in an IT environment. He is now a part-time Computer Science lecturer at Canterbury College in the EKC Group. Simon and Fida explain how the Pathways Programme (now called Talent to Teach in FE) brought them together.

Simon, from the provider point of view, why did EKC decide to support the Pathways Programme?

We saw the Further Pathways to FE Programme as an excellent way of developing our recruitment of potential new staff, enabling graduates to experience the work of an FE lecturer while providing a chance for us to model new approaches to embedding teachers into their roles.

Tell us about your experience of the Programme

We were able to provide a placement for Fida in our Computer Science department for his 40 hours of work experience. He proved to be an excellent addition to the team, providing strong classroom support for the lecturing staff and sharing his expertise with students to assist them in their learning journeys. Computer Science is a traditionally ‘hard-to-fill’ vocational area for us in terms of recruitment of key staff, and Fida had very strong subject knowledge and a student-centred approach to his work, which has greatly benefitted our learners.

What did you value most about engaging with Pathways to FE?

We valued the opportunity to work with a potential new recruit to one of our teaching teams from a ‘hard-to-fill’ subject area. It was very helpful to be able to engage with the deployment process to secure a placement that met our needs. Being able to place someone in an area to which it has been difficult to recruit suitably-qualified staff was very welcome.

How has supporting the Programme been beneficial to your organisation?

We are pleased to say that our organisation has directly benefitted from the programme in that Fida has progressed into employment with us as a Lecturer in Computer Science. This has been an excellent outcome for both Fida and the department, and most importantly the students. Fida has started his teaching role with us and joined our Teacher Academy by enrolling on our Level 3 Award in Education and Training to start his initial teacher education. We hope that he will progress to complete the full Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training with the Academy in the future.

And Fida, why did you first decide to get involved in the Programme?

There are a few reasons. I had never had the chance before to go through this kind of experience and teaching is a challenging job. You must both control a whole class of students and deliver your own knowledge. The Pathways Programme has helped me to build my skill, knowledge and confidence.

What do you like the most about teaching in Further Education?

The thing I like most is interacting with the students. I love to share my knowledge and experience of the subject and guide students to an easy way to learn. I also enjoy having the opportunity to learn from them. I love seeing my students’ enthusiasm when they are keen to learn more and do extra work in their subject.

What have been the benefits so far of engaging with the Pathways Programme?

I was totally new to teaching. The Pathways Programme has provided me with a great opportunity, connecting me with the right contacts and helping me learn more about a teacher’s role and responsibilities. It has strengthened my knowledge and skills.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

While my main focus is on teaching as a computer science lecturer, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to grow within this position, taking on more responsibilities and becoming part of new and exciting projects in the community.

Further details about the Talent to Teach in FE programme can be accessed on its web page.