The same but different

Phil Revell

Michael Davu and Shawna Goddard - respondents in our survey - are different in age, sex and colour. And while one quit a high-paying job in the City, the other came straight from school. But they are both enthusiastic about a career they now share

Michael Davu is just what the Teacher Training Agency is looking for. He's a mature professional, aged 33, who decided to go into teaching after a successful career in the City. He's teaching a shortage subject - ICT. And he's black.

"I was always planning to go into teaching," he says. But on leaving university with a computer science degree, he found himself being offered a serious sum of money to join a City firm, and ended up doing IT project management for an investment bank. "I got fed up," he says.

After nearly 10 years he found the hours and high-pressure environment were not worth the generous rewards. "I have a young family, I didn't want to miss them growing up," he says.

His education was less than perfect. While he enjoyed school and had a handful of good teachers, including an inspirational maths teacher, the school was the worst performer in the borough. "It still is," he says.

He wasn't encouraged to think of himself as a potential high-flier. The school did not want to enter him for O-levels, putting him down for the lower-level CSE. A group of students protested and the school relented.

Michael went on to gain nine O-levels and four A-levels.

Michael is doing the Graduate Teacher Programme at Luton's Ashcroft high school. He chose GTP because he wanted to be in the classroom from day one of the course. "There's still quite a bit of studying. But I'm involved in everything at school, just as if I was working there full-time, all that a teacher would be doing."

He found that his experience in the system was not a reliable guide to the quality of education offered by schools today: "I had an idea, but that's changing already."

Students coming on to the GTP programme welcome the opportunity to earn and learn. But Michael is finding the drop in income a struggle.

And he has a pragmatic response to the inevitable questions about workload:

"I was going for management jobs that would have involved 12-hour days and thinking 'Do you really want to do this?' In teaching, I can take work home and that's 'Yes, please', because I get to see my children."

Shawna Goddard is one of the few in our survey to go into teacher-training straight from college . No gap year for this 21-year-old, no trying a range of jobs before deciding her life's direction. "I want to get my studying done now and start my career," she says.

She applied for the Manchester PGCE course last October, and is aiming to become a geography teacher in a secondary school. "I prefer working with older kids and it gives me an opportunity to carry on with my subject," she says.

Geography was her favourite subject at school, along with sport. She decided to become a teacher because she thought that each day would offer something different. "I see teaching as a vocation, but that's easily said when training. When teaching properly, the answer may be different," she says.

Before beginning her training, she thought the downside would be discipline in the classroom, but the school observation she did at the start of the course provided some reassurance.

She's also less daunted by the need to teach across a wide range of abilities. "We've been in a school with lots of special needs children who were doing the same work as other pupils. The teachers said that inclusion was working, and I think that it gives the children a better chance in life."

Parents and friends are behind her decision to go into the classroom, and she is one of the TES survey group who sees the job as a long-term decision. She likes the way that recent changes to the structure of teaching jobs have opened up faster routes for promotion: "I've seen teachers move up quickly, so there is room for progression."

But before that becomes a reality, she has the small matter of the PGCE to deal with. "They've kept us very busy," she says. "We've been in at 9.30am until 4pm every day, and the amount of work in the evenings is something I'm not used to yet. There certainly is a lot to take in, but I'm getting used to it."

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