Just over a year ago, Sonia Moniz was working at the University of Dundee’s drug discovery unit, trying to find new drugs to treat diseases spread by parasites, such as Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. Now she is working as a chemistry teacher at Grove Academy in Dundee after embarking on a new 12-month fast-track route into teaching for career-changers.
Moniz says she did not “fall out of love with science in any way, shape or form”. Rather, it was a case of falling in love with teaching after starting to do some science communication work in local schools. However, at the age of 45 and used to earning a wage, Moniz could not afford a year without pay, which is why the new supported induction route (SIR) into teaching appealed to her, given that students earn about £22,500 while they study.
The course, which ran for the first time from January 2018 until January this year, was “incredibly tough”, says Moniz, who is from Portugal and who also had to study for her Higher English at the same time as carrying out her teacher training. “It was probably one of the hardest years of my life,” she says. “It was incredibly intense and I don’t think any of us would have made it if it hadn’t been for the support of our mentors.” Now Moniz is working as a full-time supply teacher in the school where she carried out her training.
When the course finished, most of her fellow SIR graduates handed their classes back to their mentors and took up new posts, but she had the option of staying on and seeing her classes through to the exams, so she took it. She believes the SIR has given her a solid base to build on and that being embedded in a school for a year gave her a good understanding of school life, from improvement planning to parents’ evenings.
“There were no corners being cut on the course,” says Moniz, who has a PhD. When her S4 class sits the National 5 exam, she will be as nervous as they are, she says. But they are on track and there have been no last-minute panics. “I have faith they will do a good job. They are dedicated and they are good learners,” adds Moniz.