“There’s no impact greater than working with young people who are going to shape the world.”
Ben Latham was a successful family lawyer when he realised what he really wanted to do was teach. Swapping the courtroom for the classroom seemed crazy to his friends and family at first, but the support he received from Teach First made the transition far easier than expected. Ben has now, in just his fourth year of teaching, progressed to be head of department at his secondary school and has no regrets about making the change.
“My degree was in International Law. I did my solicitor’s qualification on top of that, then went into practise for two years. It was my involvement in educational projects that made me soon realise that it wasn’t the right path to go down. My firm founded a children’s charity and I ended up spending time in schools. That’s when I had a reality check and thought ‘I need to be working in schools’.
When you take that initial plunge it’s terrifying. But then you see the change you’re making. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never worked as hard in my life. But the emotional rewards I think you get seeing the student progress…there’s nothing that compares.
I think Teach First appeals to professionals. It’s the fact that it’s a training programme based on leadership strategies, so it’s very easy to have those transferrable skills, to go from industry, to go from commerce and then apply the skills you acquire as a leader there and transfer them into the classroom. The way Teach First operates seems to be significantly more commercially-minded than other providers, which does make it so much easier to go from business into education. Teach First makes you realise you are already equipped with skills, then their process is about adapting those to the classroom rather than the office.
Because you are older and have that experience, the students almost pick up on that as well. So in terms of behaviour and pushing limits and things you don’t seem to have that as a professional going into education later. I think the kids already recognise that you are someone who knows what you’re talking about.
Children aren’t adverse to change, they are open to new ideas, it just shows that you can constantly change the direction. That’s quite an exciting prospect as well when you’re in the classroom.
I’ve always wanted to work my way up. Teach First gave me a really clear foundation to do that. Because I’ve had another career, it does give you the edge, especially from a leadership point of view. After my two years training I changed schools, and in my first year at the new school I became Head of Department.
It really is just a fantastic job and nothing else can compare to it. The achievements that the children make will always have a greater impact and will always give you a better buzz than exceeding any target There’s no impact greater than working with young people who are going to shape the world.”
Our Time to Teach programme has been specifically designed to support career changers like Ben swap a successful career to become a teacher. The programmes structure and the level of support you receive will make the transition to teaching as easy as possible.