The business of teaching

‘It was an eye-opening experience. Great fun, creative and invigorating.’

So says teacher Nik Jones after spending a day with the company Tekmar which manufactures subsea cable protection systems for offshore wind farms. The cutting edge technology firm supplies customers via outlets in Hamburg, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and Boston, but they have manufacturing facilities over two sites in Newton Aycliffe, which is where Nik joined the marketing team on an Edge Future Learning Teacher Externship to see how his subject, English, is applied in business.

‘I love teaching and when you have a passion for your subject, you want to share it and explain why it is important to the world. ’

Now 36, Nik became a teacher 12 years ago after studying creative studies, English and media communication at Bath Spa University. He thought teaching would be a good way to secure a steady income while he pursued his ambition of becoming a freelance journalist in his free time and holidays, but things didn’t go quite according to plan.

‘Originally I thought teaching would be a way for me to pursue a writing career. What I hadn’t banked on was how much I enjoyed it. I loved being in the classroom, I loved working with the kids; after a year I was sponsored to do a teaching qualification and I’ve never really looked back.’

Nick left his previous post as he became frustrated by the ‘exam factory’ approach of the school he worked in. What students gained in securing good grades, they often lost in opportunities to be creative, critical and curious. Now teaching at UTC South Durham, he says his externship has given him lots of ideas to bring back into school.

‘It’s interesting that some of the skills and processes you use in lessons are similarly applied in industry. The UTC has a focus on engineering, but within that sector you still need to know how to communicate and write well, say if you needed to explain how a new system works or articulate some technical text for a product launch. Being on the ‘inside’ of a company really puts what you’re teaching in school into context.’

So would Nik recommend a teacher externship to others? Absolutely! In fact he says his colleagues are all very keen to sign up.

‘Demonstrating the relevance of subjects to the real world through my own experience makes lessons more engaging for the kids. It’s the difference between students who are interested and want to be there, and just keeping a class under control.’

To find out about Edge Future Learning teacher externships, email Karen Burgess or for more information visit our website


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