Dozens of former teachers are a step closer to a return to the profession after the successful conclusion of a programme geared at helping tackle the recruitment challenge facing schools.
Following a successful campaign by Essex County Council, 40 ex-teachers from various backgrounds started an intensive new Return to Teaching programme in March.
That programme has now concluded and six participants have already been successful in securing teaching posts, while a number of others have interviews lined up and hope to find jobs for September.
Among those to have successfully landed a job is Kim Winston, who had been doing some long-term supply work at Whitmore Primary School and Nursery in Basildon since before Christmas, and was offered a permanent role following the conclusion of the course.
Kim, who lives in the Basildon area, had left the profession to have her two children about six years ago, before turning to supply work in an effort to secure a return to teaching.
She said: “The programme was great in enabling us to get up-to-date with the curriculum and how things have changed.
“I’d been back supply teaching for a term which obviously helped, but it was nice to be able to speak to other people in a similar boat and find out more about how the expectations for teachers have changed. There’s certainly a lot more autonomy and freedom to teach in different ways.
“There was also a whole day where we looked at applications and interviews, which everyone found very useful.”
Helen Hodges is another of the participants to successfully secure a teaching post and starts at Rickling Primary School, near Saffron Walden, this week.
She had already been working at the school as a teaching assistant for a year, but was keen to get back to teaching, having left about ten years ago to have her three children.
Helen, 43, said: “You lose your confidence after ten years out so the course was very useful in developing my confidence and covered lots of stuff that you would need to know to go back into the classroom.
“Good teaching and practices don’t change, but obviously there have been changes to the curriculum and assessment in that time.
“There was lots of good stuff looking at the curriculum and learning plans.”
Marie Noble is hoping to find a part-time primary school post in north Essex and is in no doubt that the programme has prepared her well for a return to the teaching profession.
The 36-year-old, who lives in the Colchester area, left teaching about six and a half years ago to bring up her children.
She said: “I found the course really informative and it’s definitely given me the confidence to go back to into the classroom and feel less like a newly qualified teacher again.
“It covered a lot of the things I was concerned about, like the changes to the national curriculum, growth mindset, which is a real buzz word in education at the moment, and even bits about applying for jobs and preparing interviews. We got given a wealth of resources that we could take away and use, which was very useful.
“It was great in just filling in those little gaps in your knowledge that have developed during the years that you’ve been out.”
Essex County Council launched its Return to Teaching programme after recognising how daunting the decision to return to the classroom can be, particularly with so many recent changes to the education system.
It aimed to help participants get up-to-date with the curriculum, assessment and teaching practice, and consisted of four days of professional development, including support with job applications and interview preparation.
The programme was funded by a strategic group set up to explore and implement new teacher recruitment and retention strategies in Essex.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “A strong supply of good quality teachers is vital in ensuring children in Essex continue to receive the best possible education, particularly as pupil numbers continue to grow.
“We work closely with the county’s schools to help them with the ongoing challenge of recruitment and are delighted we have been able to give former teachers the confidence and knowledge to return to the profession.
“A number of talented teachers leave every year and if we can continue to entice some of them back to the classroom then that would be a big boost for the county’s schools.”