Sam Rees, 27
University: Swansea, English and History, 2001 (2:2)
Qualification: Sam is taking The Graduate Teaching Programme (GTP).
Job: Beginning teacher, Langley Park School for Boys, London
I started graduate life in a sales job. I was bored and got fed up clock-watching and traveling into London. After the bombings last July it just made things worse. I thought about teaching and gave it a go.
Is managing bad behaviour an issue for you?
No. I work in a good school – a traditional comprehensive with a good behavioral ethos. You get the odd rogue kid but nothing horrendous has happened yet.
Best and worst parts of teaching?
Parents’ evening was brilliant – getting feedback on how much someone’s child is enjoying your lessons. The flipside is being exposed to individuals in the classroom with special educational needs. You sometimes feel totally unequipped.
Go for it: the money’s never going to be amazing but the personal rewards are massive.
A former advertising sales manager, Sam has chosen one of the most challenging routes into teaching. Rather than a PGCE, he is taking the Graduate Teaching Programme (GTP), where graduates over 24 train on the job with a substantial timetable of classes.
"I didn’t want to go back to university," he explains. "This way you spend a huge amount of time in the classroom. You’re thrown into the deep end."
Alongside the hands-on experience, GTP graduates earn a salary of £13,000. But there’s another bonus: Sam is training at a school where he was once a pupil.
"It’s great," he says. "I know all the procedures (like how to give out detentions), but it’s still challenging. By my second day I was teaching a Year 7 class. It was amazing standing there, thinking – ‘Oh dear, I really have no idea what to say!’"
A few weeks on and Sam is teaching 12 hours per week.
"The job is hugely up and down," he says. "But your self-esteem really grows when a kid says ‘Cheers Sir’ after the bell or ‘I really enjoyed your lesson.’ Little things like that can make a big difference."
The stress, however, is a constant pressure: "It’s difficult taking over so many different classes, marking and planning, plus dealing with kids with emotional and behavioural difficulties," Sam reflects.
Approximately 40 per cent of new-teacher trainees are over 25, those moving out of the boardroom and into the classroom.
"Days fly by, which is more than I can say for my last job," Sam says. "You learn a lot about yourself. I find myself now getting annoyed by little things I’d normally put up with. But if you don’t tell a kid to tuck his shirt in at the start of a lesson, things can go down-hill rapidly!"