During the last 12 months the country has seen a considerable amount of people applying to become a teacher. Many of these applications have come from people who have had no choice but to change career due to the pandemic. This rings particularly true for one of South Yorkshire’s future teachers, so we wanted to find out more. 

Meet David Holmes, a 28 year old trainee teacher, originally from Wakefield. After completing a degree in International Business Studies (BA Hons) at Sheffield Hallam University, David went on to work in the hospitality industry. Working as a chef for the past seven years in the UK, USA and Canada, David’s career was put on hold due to the pandemic having a negative effect on the hospitality sector.

David saw this as a positive opportunity and decided to take the plunge to become a teacher. He is now undergoing a PGCE in Primary Education, specialising in Mathematics. Currently at the University of Hull, David is training with school-led initial teacher trainers Learning Unlimited Teaching School Alliance (LUTSA). We spoke to David to find out how he’s finding life as a trainee teacher.

Q. Why did you decide to change from a career in hospitality to becoming a teacher?

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, I just thought it would be in a culinary institute. My mother is a primary teacher and has been for 40 years, so I’ve always had great insight and an interest in teaching. The pandemic really decimated the hospitality sector so I thought now would be a great time to seize the opportunity with both hands!”

Q. What was the application process like with LUTSA?

“Similar to university applications, very rigorous and thorough but I feel like it’s not a decision which people take lightly so that is needed for sifting through those who are not ‘cutting the mustard’. The interview process was over Zoom like most of our current lives are – but it was very efficient and effective, I thought, under the current circumstances.”

Q. What did you imagine it would be like to be a trainee teacher and has it lived up to those expectations?

“Yes – almost definitely. I imagined a lot more ‘watching and observing’ than the very much hands-on approach it has turned out to be. I had a little insight from family members who are teachers so I knew what I was letting myself in for. And as to living up to expectations (especially career changing during a pandemic), it has certainly delivered – on all fronts. I feel like the amount of support and guidance as well as the wealth of resources we have at our fingertips has been great, a real welcome change to past careers and jobs.”

Q. Can you talk us through the support you’ve received from LUTSA? 

It’s been great! From interview to accepting the offer for the course – everything has been laid out extremely clearly and in detail. They are extremely thorough but also they offer a tailored approach and really make you feel welcome, despite them dealing with such a high volume of students and trainees.

The weekly hub sessions and almost daily conversations/contact I have with the providers are amazing. Really thoughtful, personable and professional trainers with a wealth of expertise and experience. They really help guide you through this whole process.”

Q. Take us back to that first day when you had to take a class yourself. What was it like and how were you feeling?

“It was absolutely terrifying. The thought of being responsible for all those children running around and not listening was a little hairy. But then the calm happened and the relationships blossomed. After 20 minutes I managed to pick up some self-belief, confidence and most importantly, answer their questions correctly. There is no better feeling than witnessing their ‘light-bulb moment and you being the provider of that moment.”

Q. What has it been like training to be a teacher throughout the pandemic?

“Rewarding! It’s been truly rewarding. Everyone has been so grateful for everything and the pandemic has only made teachers and students alike more resilient. Every single member of staff has thanked me and the other students for all our efforts, across all platforms. Whether it’s been PDMs or break time duty, I’ve (we’ve) really felt appreciated in all that we do.”

Q. Where did you/are you doing your placements? Can you tell us a little more about them?

“My first placement was at St Wilfrid’s Primary School (Millhouses) in a R/Y1 setting from September 2020 to March 2021. I absolutely loved my time in a Key Stage 1 setting. The school was lovely and all the staff are so welcoming. Me and the other students training there felt so at home instantly. It’s a real family and community-orientated school and Cath and Delia took real pride in all the classes and everything they had to offer. 

I’ve just started at Sacred Heart School in Hillsborough and it’s as equally welcoming and that community spirit is as present as St Wilfrid’s. There’s a real pride at Sacred Heart too, after only a few days I can certainly feel it. All the kids have been great and I’ve already started to make great connections with the Y6 class in which I’m based.”

Q. Can you tell us about the support you’ve received from LUTSA in terms of applying for jobs?

“There have been employability workshops which were put on for all the trainees which I found really useful and helpful. Also, I feel as though any query which is centred around application forms or job information can be directed at any of the current placement staff or the LUTSA staff and they would happily reply. There is a wealth of support which is at the end of an email.”

Q. What are you most looking forward to about having your first permanent job as a teacher?

“Having the full class (and the year) to coordinate and direct in my own way. I have so many ideas which I’d love to plan into my own lessons, and really get that sense of being at the helm and the person responsible for the (hopefully) positive lessons and impact you’re making. 

Also, the connection with the children and to see the journey the whole way through. It’ll be great to begin at a new school in a different year group and experience everything for the first time without needing the support of a mentor on a daily basis.”

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say about LUTSA?

“They’re great and cannot think of a better way to start my career.”

Q. Is there anything else you’d want to say to people thinking about training to be a teacher?

“If anyone, like me, is wondering when a good time to start teacher training is, then that time is always now! This year has been so rewarding and eye-opening. Of course, it’s been the toughest working year of my life but so worth it!”

Thank you, David, for taking the time to tell us about your amazing journey as a trainee teacher. We wish you all the very best in your future career and know you’ll be a fantastic teacher!

If, like David, you want to change your career and become a teacher, you can find brilliant, local school-led routes into teaching here.