TWO Limerick graduates are offering hope to students struggling to find teaching careers in Ireland.
Andrew Casey and Gillian Lupton - both graduates of Mary Immaculate College where they completed their Bachelor of Education in primary teaching - spent the month of July teaching in South West England to learn about the teaching styles and to help them decide if England was the place to complete their diploma. The familiarisation trip was organised by UK specialist education recruiter Classpeople.
“Taking the plunge to teach in England with Classpeople was a daunting but exciting prospect,” said Andrew who hails from Galway. “Daunting because I was moving to a different country and also tinged with excitement at the prospect of finally putting three years of practical work and theory into practice.”
Based on their experiences, Classpeople managing director and former teacher Lynis Basset believes that many more Irish graduates and trainee teachers are especially well-suited to starting their careers in the West of England.
“On my arrival to the UK I was immediately put at ease when Lynis met me at the accommodation and showed us a fantastic apartment in a lovely area of Cheltenham. The welcome was one you would associate with Ireland. The Classpeople team in Cheltenham took time out on their day off to show us around the town and point out all the attractions the town has to offer,” Andrew continued.
He said that once he got stuck in to teaching in each different school the small differences in teaching practices faded away.
“Teaching mathematics, I found that even though it may be a different country and curriculum, fractions, mean, median, mode and range remain the same. You are not starting from scratch; my knowledge is not being wasted. In fact, the class teacher was impressed and happy to embrace ideas I have and we shared activities and lessons which have worked well for us in the past.”
Andrew said he would strongly recommend to anyone in Ireland who is struggling to find a teaching position straight after graduating to consider teaching in England.
“There is a clear shortage of teachers which means for those who are keen to gain experience yet are struggling to find work, England might be an ideal solution. You can complete your DIP in the UK and gain experience with the support of your new school.”
Gillian from Tipperary found the experience illuminating and said it opened her eyes to a number of possibilities.
“The first day on the job we were briefed with a quick run-through of what it’s like teaching in Cheltenham. Then we were taken to a primary school nearby to observe a UK teacher and class. Over the next week I was in a variety of different schools and year groups, ranging from year two right up to year six. Overall, I found the classes were not that different from Irish classes. The schools here are larger and quite dynamic but after a short while I realised that teaching really is no different in the UK and settled in quite comfortably.”
With the successful temporary placements of Gillian and Andrew, Classpeople are continuing to recruit teachers from Ireland to work across Classpeople’s partner schools in the South West of England in positions ranging from early years practitioners, primary school and secondary school teachers as well as SEN teachers and head teachers.
“As a former teacher I know all too well the struggles teachers find in securing those essential first positions in order to complete your diploma year,” said Lynis Bassett. “In the South West of England we are crying out for teachers - so many graduated from university and opt to teach in cities like London that this part of the country is often neglected. The South West is a fantastic location with great transport links and even better schools – it is an ideal part of the country to gain experience teaching and also for those who are looking to settle down and start a long career.”