Axcis were pleased to give careers guidance and support to lots of students looking to work with SEND at the Birmingham City University Education and Teaching Fair last week.
Bobbie Greatrix, Account Manager in the Axcis Midlands office, went along to the Birmingham City University Education and Teaching Fair last week. She met lots of students who were keen to discuss their interest in working with SEND and learn how agency work can be a great avenue into this sector.
Many of us will know the feeling – the end of formal education and the start of a career. It can be a daunting time for many students who want to make the “right” moves and ensure their career gets off to a flying start.
My personal journey after finishing my undergraduate course and PGCE was to grab the first offer I got. I was so worried about getting an NQT post in a school with a strong induction programme, that when my second placement school asked if I would apply for their NQT Science post, I thought it was a gift from above and jumped at the chance. I never shopped around and I didn’t compare the opportunities that were open to me. As a result, I ended up spending 2 years teaching at a school I didn’t enjoy. Don’t get me wrong – they were very supportive, the Induction programme was second to none and I had a brilliant team around me in the department. However, I quickly decided that teaching wasn’t for me and moved out of the sector.
It’s a tough call for many newly qualified teachers – shop around for that perfect school but risk not finding it, or grab the first offer you have in order to get Induction completed and become a fully qualified, registered teacher.
Not many NQTs consider supply teaching to be a viable option. There are concerns about continuity of work, whether any school will offer to support their NQT year and whether their agency will understand what they are looking for and find appropriate placements. However, I strongly believe that supply work can be an excellent option for newly qualified education professionals and this is why:
One of the things you don’t get during a PGCE (other teaching qualifications are available!) is to experience a range of different schools. Most students will be placed in 2 schools during their training, and it is very rare that either school is a specialist SEND one. Add to that the fact that SEND still forms a very small part of most teacher training courses and what you get are lots of newly qualified teachers who don’t really understand the scope of types of school available to them in their first teaching post, and certainly have not been given the opportunity to try out teaching in a SEND setting.
My personal experience was not ideal. I was placed in to one school which was later put into special measures. In this school – my first EVER experience of teaching – I was left alone to deliver classes to very challenging groups of students who put themselves, me and other students into difficult and sometimes violent situations. I was not given any guidance or training on restraint techniques and at one point I was even locked in a cupboard by my year 7 students! Only now do I have the experience and knowledge to look back and know that for one thing, I should NEVER have been left on my own with ANY class – as a trainee teacher, the usual class teacher had a responsibility to observe and feed back on my lessons. My second placement school, although much more organised, was still a school known in the area as having many challenging students and low attainment levels (a permanent police presence on site alone tells you how tough some of the children could be!) After my initial experience, I was left feeling that this is what teaching is like and all schools would be this way. Even though I stuck with it for another 2 years, I became so disillusioned with the profession that I decided it wasn’t the right one for me.
Had I been given the opportunity to try out different schools, I would have learned that every school is different, and it’s really all about finding the right fit for you. Supply work gives you this opportunity in spades! This is especially true for SEND schools who may recruit fewer permanent staff than mainstream schools and often look for staff with niche training or specialisms when they do so – making it harder for NQTs to apply.
This is where agency work really can be a great benefit to graduates who are considering SEND schools but don’t know what part of the sector they might fit into. Or for those who know what they want but a suitable post is not currently available. At Axcis, we can provide guidance and support, discuss your skills and experience and help you to find placements in a variety of schools. We can provide additional training to help you work in these environments (such as Team Teach, Autism Awareness etc) and give you the chance to try a range of schools before deciding what the right fit for you will be. I’ve had many staff say to me “I’d have never considered this job before but I’m so glad you talked to me about it and got me a trial because I LOVE it and hope they will keep me on long-term.”
In addition to this, you’d be surprised how many schools will in fact support Induction for long-term supply staff, and current NQT rates of pay in the sector are usually commensurate with permanent positions, so despite what some might say, staff in long-term positions won’t be suffering in their pay packet either.
So, don’t discount supply work because it might be seen by some as a fall back for people who don’t get a permanent job – consider it carefully if you want to experience a range of schools before you decide where to focus your career.
Bobbie was thrilled to meet lots of students who found her advice helpful and who now plan to register with Axcis to get their careers started in the education sector.
If you are a recent graduate and interested in teaching or teaching assistant work, register with Axcis and have a chat to your consultant about how they can help. You might be surprised about what they can offer you!