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Making the transition into teaching;
Kim Stephens

What did you do before becoming a teacher?

I graduated in 1996 from Durham University with a BSC in Natural Sciences. At this stage, I wasn’t clear what I wanted to do, but financial pressures meant I needed a job. I was considering teaching, police, social work, probation service or simply continuing in academia. However, I was headhunted and ended up joining a WHSmith Graduate Training Scheme.

What inspired you to get into teaching?

I spent about 9 years with WHSmith and made swift career progression through the company, eventually becoming Category Campaign Manager. Whilst I was good at my job, I found it unrewarding. It lacked any emotional connection, and I was concerned that I wasn’t ‘making a difference’. I kept talking about teaching but felt that the opportunity had passed me by. After having my first child, I started to re-evaluate my life choices and think about the example I wanted to set my child. WHSmith were looking for people to take voluntary redundancy so I took it and made some major life changes!

Tell us about the training process…

I wanted to ensure that teaching and a school environment was right for me, so I applied to be a Cover Supervisor at my old school. I worked there for a year and I loved it; my school were also happy to support me through my training. I stayed at my school permanently throughout the Graduate Teacher Programme, rather than moving around, which really helped with arranging childcare.
I had great support within my school, but I did struggle with feeling as though I couldn’t ask my tutors for help when needed. I felt well supported with pedagogy and advice about how to be successful in the classroom, but there was very little advice on my subject knowledge. Having been out of education for 10 years, I had to regain a lot of my knowledge and did not always feel particularly confident. I feel that more subject discussion and enhancement would have been beneficial to me. I then moved schools for my NQT year and sadly experienced a lack of support; this really highlighted to me how vital it is to receive support during this crucial period.

What are your plans for the future?

Since starting my Graduate Teaching Programme in 2007, I progressed to be Second-in-Science in 2012, Head of Science in 2014 and now a role on the Senior Leadership Team that I started in 2017. I am now studying for my National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership within a view to taking up an Assistant Head position within the next 2 years.

Sum up your experience for us…

I enjoy going to work every day and spending my time with inspiring, witty, confident young people. Teaching has given me opportunities to develop and progress and gives me the flexibility to work anywhere in the country/world. I also feel valued by the people I work with and my success is recognised.



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.