Trainee, secondary maths
Programme cohort
2023 School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme

Teaching assistant to teacher in one year

Damini always wanted to be a teacher. When COVID-19 struck, she decided to finally pursue her goal and train to become a secondary maths teacher.

After working as a teaching assistant at Avanti Fields for a year, I signed up to the one-year School-Centred Initial Teacher Training programme with Avanti Schools Trust, working in partnership with Teach First.

It’s funny, because at first I was terrible at maths. I was lucky to have a maths teacher in secondary school who noticed me struggling, and who worked alongside me through years 10 and 11 until my grades improved.

He motivated me and made me better at something I thought I was bad at. That’s what taught me how important it is to have a teacher who understands their pupils.

Ultimately, that impact went beyond the classroom, because he inspired me to become a teacher too.

The school

Avanti Fields is a Hindu faith school but we have students of all different faiths and backgrounds. We also have students who don’t speak English as their first language, so they have that extra hurdle to overcome.

The school gives help for students who start off not being able to speak English at all, and they eventually flourish.

We also support any pupils who live in poverty by giving free school meals and cheaper trips. It’s a really supportive environment and we make sure everyone has the same opportunities.

Building my confidence in teaching

I was definitely anxious before starting the training. I’d heard that the workload was really challenging, so I was keen to know how I’d cope with that.

The training week at the start made me feel much more organised. We found out the timeline for the training and I immediately felt at ease.

Going into school, I worked up slowly from observing lessons to planning them with my mentor, and eventually leading the full lesson. My mentor still guides me but my confidence to teach lessons alone has really grown.

During my training, I observe experts, learning from them how to improve my own techniques as a teacher. It’s helping me gradually build the skills I need to lead the class, and support is always available. 

To begin with, it was a little strange because I was teaching pupils I’d worked with before as a teaching assistant. The whole dynamic shifted, but at the same time it gave me an advantage.

I was aware of some of the pupils’ needs and how to meet them because I already had good relationships built in the classroom.

Also, the support from Avanti and Teach First has been brilliant. My subject mentor and lead mentor (who looks after all aspects of my training and development) are both so responsive and supportive. They always make sure I have what I need.

A fond memory

Even though I’m not fully qualified yet, I already feel like I’m making a difference to pupils in my classes.

There’s a student in my Year 7 class who, at the beginning, was so shy they rarely spoke at all. But as time has gone on, they’ve become more open with me.

Recently, they told me I was the best maths teacher they’d ever had. Honestly, I wanted to cry. It made me realise what an impact I’m having on pupils.

Even though I’m not their full teacher yet, I felt incredibly motivated by the fact they already feel I’ve been their best teacher. That memory is one I absolutely love.

I know that teaching is a long journey, but I also know it’s a very rewarding experience. I think if it’s something you’re passionate about then you should go for it.

It can be difficult, but at the end of the day you will see the results of your persistence.

You can qualify as a teacher in one year on our School-Centred Initial Training (SCITT) programme.

Like Damini, you’ll train in a school near you and make a difference in your local community and learn from experts along the way.

Learn more about SCITT.

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