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Making the transition into teaching;
Emma Wagg

What did you do before becoming a teacher?

After completing my A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths – not particularly successfully – I abandoned plans for university and joined a retail outlet as an A-level management trainee. I ended up spending 8 years working in management in various stores. I enjoyed what I did and had the opportunity to help to write both the training programme and model store programme – aspects of which are still in place now.

What inspired you to get into teaching?

After the birth of my first child, I decided not to return to retail. With 3 children under five, I decided to start the degree I should have done years before. I’ve always loved science and telling everyone about it, so teaching was a natural next step

Tell us about the training process…

I did both my BSc (Hons) in Life Sciences and subsequent PGCE with the Open University on a flexible part-time basis. I trained in an excellent school which I ended up staying in; the staff were very encouraging which really helped. Most of the skills I learned and developed during my previous career were completely transferrable. Having great mentors and taking on opportunities as they arrived really helped me succeed in changing careers. I do work most evenings and Saturdays in term times, and several days in the holidays, but I still appreciate the flexibility I have in that.
I was 40 when I started my NQT year and it was another 5 years before my salary matched what I was paid when I left my retail career, so you could see this as a disadvantage. However, I loved going to work every day and I still do. The rewards in teaching are far greater than the salary.

What are your plans for the future?

I became second in my department in my third year of teaching and began to mentor trainees. I completed an MEd in Leadership and Management in Education and was appointed Lead Practitioner in 2015. I also took on responsibility for all the trainee teachers as a Professional Mentor. I am now actively on the path to becoming Assistant Headteacher.

Sum up your experience for us…

Being thanked for teaching students well feels much better than being thanked for selling lots of clothes! I also have a great story to tell them – if they’re not working hard enough, I tell them not to make my mistakes. Later, if their exam results don’t work out, I tell them there’s always another way!



Express your interest

Interested in making a career change? Register your interest with the Transition to Teach programme, and we will be in contact with further information for you.