Peter Watson retrained as a French teacher after a career of over 30 years in Investment Banking. Here he reflects on his ability to connect students with industry and the value Now Teachers can add.
In addition to my "day job" of teaching French, I help out with careers discussions at my school. It's an important area to focus on. It matters to the Government so much that in 2017 they set an ambitious target that every single young person in the country would benefit from at least one ‘employer encounter’ every year by the end of 2020. Yet a recent report by the Careers and Enterprise Company highlighted that one-in-five young people are still missing out on such regular employer encounters.
In my school last year, I was able to bring 14 contacts from my previous life to the school's "Aspirations Evening", an event at which our Year 10s could meet people from different industries and professions. Since my school ends with Year 11, it is important for us to find good places for our children to study for their A Levels or apprenticeships. I have equally ambitious plans this year. Evidence suggests that these opportunities for young people to interact with employers while at school improves their employability and earnings in later life. It even has an impact on their motivation and results while at school.
I also try to identify my pupils' particular areas of interest. For example, one really enjoys chemistry and wants to study it at university. I have directed her to two chemistry books that I found particularly interesting, one of which I have lent to her and the other donated to the school library. Another wants to be an engineer. I have lent him "Structures" by J.E. Gordon. I want my pupils to understand that subjects are not silos. There are connections between them and I believe that an appreciation of these connections makes it easier to learn the material in each.
It is too early to estimate the wider impact of this on my pupils but it is already clear that they are pleasantly surprised when their French teacher extols the merits of other subjects and interests. Eventually, I hope that my impact will be to develop my pupils' curiosity and prompt them to seek out knowledge for its own sake, a vital skill in a fast-changing labour market.
The value of experience
Now Teachers have the time, the resources, the maturity and the contacts to make a huge difference to the children, the younger members of staff and the school as a whole. Eventually, I believe that experienced Now Teachers will be able to improve significantly the way in which schools are managed and thus help to address the crisis in teacher retention.
"One-in-five young people are still missing out on such regular employer encounters".