Anne-Marie Lawlor was part of the first ever cohort of Now Teach, training as an MFL teacher in 2017. Now she is responsible for the careers offering in her school. Here she shares some of the work she's been doing with students, drawing on experiences from her previous career. 

Before I became a teacher I was a civil servant, and spent several years at the Department for Education. For a time, I was responsible for government policy on careers advice and guidance. If retraining as a teacher has taught me anything, it is that theory/policy and practice are far from the same thing. Nonetheless, it meant that I was interested when the role of careers coordinator was advertised in my school.  I had also been responsible for the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate recruitment programme, which seemed relevant and useful.

Speaking from experience

That previous experience has proved useful. Not in a very direct way – graduate recruitment programmes are a long way in the future for my current pupils – but it means that I can speak with confidence about the skills and qualities that employers are looking for. I can talk with conviction backed by experience about the qualities that all employers look for, like eye-contact, confident communication, team-work, evidence of taking on responsibilities. We all know these things, but it definitely helps that I can talk from personal experience about recruitment in the world outside schools. My current mission is teaching our older pupils to shake hands confidently. It is an alien skill for most teenagers, and yet as they start applying for college places and jobs it is an important one. Most of our pupils think I am being highly eccentric but I know it is a small but important skill that they may not learn anywhere else.

Looking ahead

I work in a fairly new school, so we are building up our careers offering, which is an exciting opportunity. I have been investigating the various online diagnostic tools on the market, as well as making connections with various local and national organisations that can be of help to our students. There is a lot out there, and the challenge can be focusing in on the organisations that can most benefit our pupils.

Opening pupils’ horizons so that they learn more about what jobs and roles exist in their city, and particularly those that will grow in the future is very important to us. Taking the whole of year 10 for a careers event and exploration around the City of London last summer was an important example of this. The majority of our pupils had never visited the City before. Getting a range of speakers about different careers in to school is also sparking lots of interest in our pupils.

Unexpected dimension

As a parent myself of university-aged and older children, even if I am a novice professionally, I have lived through my own children finding out about careers, doing work experience and applying for jobs and courses, and this knowledge is often very useful to me. 

I'm enjoying the opportunity to use my existing knowledge and experience to make a big difference to the pupils in my school.