Neil Jones – Changing Careers

“You’re crazy,” they said.

“You won’t have enough time to manage everything,” they told me.

“Have you thought this through?”


Back in January, when I applied for a course with CTTC for Secondary English, everybody thought I was either insane or unaware of the pressure of teacher training. At that time, my daughter was two and my husband was in the middle of his own degree.


I weighed up the risks of being overwhelmed against the skills that I had. I balanced the priorities of childcare with the passion that I felt for my subject and for teaching.


At the end of the day, one cannot argue with passion.


In February, I attended my micro-teach and interview with CTTC. Back then, Covid-19 was a minor concern in news articles about other countries. It felt very far away from our lives… I certainly had no idea that, only two weeks later, we would be in total lockdown.


As September approached, I’ll admit I felt apprehensive. Some of that was nerves from starting a new course – unsure about what would be expected of me, or what my daily life would look like. Some of my nerves probably came from having seen nobody except my husband and daughter for six months. Would I be able to hold a normal conversation again? But, the majority of my nerves came from the risk that we all were now very aware of – the risk of infection, disruptions of life and health, and the real risks to the profession I was trying to enter.


CTTC were, from the beginning, very clear on how things would work. Zoom links were sent out for induction training sessions – emails were professional, informative, and reassuring. I slowly started to put faces to some names – of CTTC staff and my fellow trainees. Although there were none of the usual conversations in the margins – very little of the connection with my peers that might come over cups of tea or moments between sessions – we were still discovering that we all shared a common goal.


When my first placement started, rules about mask wearing and a one-way system for walking around the school were clear and simple. Training sessions in CTTC were split into smaller groups, and we sat at desks separated by screens. Despite the nation’s general sense of anxiety (and I’m sure a pressure behind the scenes for those trying to minimise risks for upwards of 1800 people) everybody was simply getting back to the business of teaching. The education of young people was the utmost priority – and the message was: we will make it work, as a team.


One of the main things they say when you start teacher training: teachers need resilience. It’s a tough job… you deal with children all day, with tough subjects you have to try to explain, with pressures from management and workload and parental expectations. Nobody knew, back in January, that that resilience would be so tested. In CTTC, and in the teachers I have met – that resilience has shone through everything.