At Now Teach, we believe that the option for flexibility is crucial in attracting and retaining the best talent in teaching. For that reason, this month we are sharing stories, tips and resources on securing and talking about flexible working with schools. Follow #flexiblefebruary on twitter for more. 

Training to teach part-time - Clare Marcer, Cohort 2020

Before becoming a trainee teacher, I worked for an agricultural chemical manufacturer.  For the last 8 years since starting a family, I worked part-time as an analytical chemist in the quality control department and as the sites environmental monitor testing, measuring and recording the sites potential pollutants and wastes. This demanding role was fulfilling but, in the background, I was working with The Scouts as an assistant leader, fostering my interest in working with children and teaching.

A few years ago, I considered teaching and as a scientist I knew that there was a need for my skills. Working with The Scouts showed me that I was capable of working with groups of children and young people.  However, I began to feel unwell and tired and was diagnosed with ME in 2018/9.  At that point, I believed that training to teach would be a full on, full-time year and that it would be an impossible reach for me.  I was lucky to have been able to keep working in my job - balancing my work part-time, homelife and wellbeing enough to enjoy my life.

Yet in September of 2019 my employer hosted the regional final of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s schools competition. Whilst helping, I chatted to the teachers and it really cemented that that was where I wanted to be.  Investigating further, I discovered that it was now possible to train part-time as a teacher and I was lucky enough to be accepted by Suffolk and Norfolk SCITT on a two-year Science/Chemistry Initial Teacher Training programme.

It was while I was applying for ITT places that I met Now Teach at an open event in the City Centre library after a family member noticed the advert in the local paper. Talking to Lucy at the event really encouraged and cemented my plan to getting into teaching, giving me the confidence to pursue my passion.  Once accepted into the Now Teach fold, they provided invaluable advice, skills, courses and a friendly ear when things are tough!

With my ill health and family commitments, training part-time is the only way that I could complete my teacher training.  It has allowed me to both be there for my family and look after my health.   My SCITT, in conjunction with my placement school, have been really flexible with the days I can work. 

In my first year of training I am in school two days a week working as any other trainee, but I then have three days out of school. And whilst some of those days are taken up with subject knowledge or core training, I am able to get the majority of my training commitments complete while my children are at school and have time to rest when I need it. 

In my first year, I will complete most of the core training and assignments.  The plan for my second year is to be in school three days a week with minimal core training needed.  Part-time needs are different for everyone but the ability to train part-time has allowed me to achieve something I didn’t think was possible.  I am able to give my all to my students when I am in school but still have the life I need out of school and my children are happy.

Being a perfectionist, part-time also gives me time to understand, comprehend and really engage with the theoretical aspect of the training as well as having time for being a mother, wife, friend as well as being a teacher and student.

You do need to have a good relationship with your mentor and your course tutor to manage expectations and workload, and be very organised to keep on track with where everything is at school.  I have also found that like many professional roles, my part-time days are not the only days that I speak to school as planning is often dependent on what other teachers have taught in the interim.  But that has allowed me to build strong links and relationships with teachers and other colleagues and I wouldn’t have it any other way.