By Wigan & Leigh College

During the uncertainty and challenges of the last few years we have emerged with a renewed belief in the value of education.

As a result, more and more people are considering careers in education, from teaching roles to teaching assistants, from primary to post-16 and with the back drop of an education workforce shortage, now is the perfect time to follow a passion or complete a change of career.

Teacher training is varied and pathways can very much depend upon the age group you wish to teach. However, with the new strategic partnership between Wigan & Leigh College and Edge Hill University it is now possible to stay local and study towards your chosen career.

Primary school teaching is a career dream for many but for those who wish to study and gain a degree the option of moving away or having to study full-time is often a barrier. These barriers have now been removed.

From September 2022, local residents will have the opportunity to take up the BA (Hons) Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status at the Centre of Advanced Technical Studies, Wigan.

This course will be delivered by Edge Hill University academics and is an ideal route for those considering becoming a primary school teacher.

The delivery of this course in Wigan has come as a result of the skills partnership which was launched in July 2020 (a new collaboration between Wigan Council, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), Wigan & Leigh College and Edge Hill University).

The partnership aims to boost education, health and economic prospects for the borough of Wigan and to respond to the levelling up agenda.

Applications are coming in from all over the borough with existing students looking to progress to the course in September and others wishing to return to education for the first time in years.

The combination of a university education in a local environment with the opportunity to train in local schools and ultimately secure employment in your local community offers many advantages and removes the barriers that often stop people making that change.

For those who would prefer to teach older students (post-16) there are Certificate in Education (Cert Ed) courses for those without a degree and Post Graduate Certificate courses (PGCE) for those who hold a degree in another discipline.

The Cert Ed and PGCE courses are flexible to support adults who want to study locally and are offered part-time as well as full-time, making it an ideal way of keeping a current job while learning to teach.

Many of the college’s learners start earning straight away and do funded training on the job. Not only that but many get offered permanent roles while still on their training.

Just this academic year all of the completing full-time PGCE students at the University Centre Wigan & Leigh gained employment at North West College’s in the space of a week.

36-year-old mum, Leanne Rees decided to embark on her teaching passion after discovering she enjoyed delivering staff training in her former role as a nursery manager. She quickly secured employment as a lecturer and assessor at a local FE College. “If it wasn’t for my tutors’ support, I wouldn’t have got my new role,” she said.
And after being furloughed from her retail manager role, full-time PGCE student, Becky Warburton thought ‘now was the time’ to pursue a career in education. She too gained employment during her course and will become a Health & Social Care and Childcare Lecturer at Warrington & Vale Royal College. Becky added: “The course has been really good. I’ve enjoyed getting back into the theory side of things and linking it to teaching. The 10am starts also help me with taking my child to school in the mornings.”

Many students studying on this pathway have moved from other careers and want to combine their employment skills with teaching so they can educate the next generation in their own specialism.

With skills shortages in areas such as construction and digital industries, having industry experienced teachers in further education and sixth form colleges is vital in training up the next generation of skilled workers.

From a recent survey, the areas with the highest proportion of job vacancies were construction (66%), engineering (60%), health and social care (54%) and science and maths (43%), with the percentage of those reporting persistent vacancy rates in these areas (from Association of Colleges survey 2021/22).

‘Change lives without changing your career’ is the current government teaching campaign slogan to encourage skilled workers into education.

Wigan & Leigh College have been strong advocates of hiring skilled and experienced industry experts to its teaching staff, which allows for them to share their real world work experiences to relate student tasks and assignment work to real working scenarios.

Plumbing Lecturer, Stewart Boyle completed his Certificate in Education last year and is now a well-established member of the College’s teaching staff. Fresh from 10 years within the plumbing industry, where he had his own business, he brings up to date knowledge. “I wanted to pass on my knowledge and having helped apprentices in my former role, I knew it was something I enjoyed doing,” said Stewart. "The teaching team were brilliant and very helpful. It was great to learn alongside people from different backgrounds. I had a great mentor as well so the support and resources we got on this course were fantastic."

Some people are looking for careers in education but not necessarily as a fully qualified teacher. With a passion to support others to fulfil their educational goals many look to qualifying as teaching assistants.

This vital role supports and assists pupils in making the most of their education and achieving the very best. Teaching assistants are the classroom support for both the teacher and pupil and help pupils get the most from their time in education.

The college offers Level 2 and 3 teaching assistant courses on a part-time basis with flexible options to study during the day or in the evening.

At 36, Adam Brocken decided to change his career plan after 13 years in the pub trade having discovered a passion for helping his children to learn.

"I have two children who I home-schooled during lockdown. I found that I really enjoyed it and having that time with them."

Since completing the Level 3 course Adam has now started a full-time position at a local primary school.

There are many reasons why people decide to go into teaching, but following a pandemic and the effects it has had on jobs in particular, has allowed people the chance to take stock.

Some have experienced redundancies, while others have had extra time to reflect on what they want from life.

If you have a passion to train the next generation of workers in your field or just want a change of career, where you can still utilise the skills you have acquired then teaching may be the path to a rewarding career for you.

Take a look at our teaching courses which offer a flexibility and support to adults who want to study locally:

Note: AOC survey from this article:

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