Trainee Stories

Sandy Uppal

“When you are a teacher, you are always learning”

Sandy trained in business and management and worked in marketing for several years, but she began to feel that it wasn’t the career for her. She had considered teaching in the past, but was held back by thought of starting all over again, and was also unsure of where to begin! Eventually, she started to look into teacher training more seriously, and realised that it wouldn’t be as difficult as she had imagined to make the change. Sandy was drawn to the programme’s values, particularly its emphasis on family, and also because of the personal approach to teacher training.

Sandy’s Story

The reason I wanted to become a teacher was because I wanted a job which I felt was meaningful, and that would make a positive difference to the lives of others. However, it took me a while to make the step to apply for teacher training because the thought of starting again was quite daunting. I also didn’t have a Science GCSE and I thought that might rule me out of teaching altogether, but I then found out that I could teach myself Science GCSE and take an exam through Oxford Learning, which is exactly what I went on to do.

When I started applying to different teacher training providers, my Science GCSE was still provisional; because of this I faced a block from some providers straight away. However, the trust were more flexible, and they accepted me onto the course under the condition that I had the GCSE before starting in the September.

I am from Smethwick and wanted to train in my local area. Also, as I was making a career change I didn’t want to go back to university, and the thought of a hands-on, school-based programme really appealed to me. I liked the idea of training on the job and spending as much time in schools as possible during my training year. As a career changer I felt I needed to be immersed in the everyday roles and responsibilities of the job, to make sure that it was definitely what I wanted to do long term.

Another reason that I was drawn to the trust because of their values, particularly their emphasis on family, and also because of the personal approach to teacher training that the programme offers, due to the fact that they only take on a small number of trainees each year. It was also clear that creativity was important and that innovative teaching that involved bringing creativity into the classroom was very much encouraged. As a creative person myself, (art and design were a key part of my previous career), I was keen not to lose those skills, and to incorporate them into my teaching, so for that reason, the training programme was ideal.

The support that I have received from so far has been amazing. My mentors and tutors have always been there for me if I have been worried about anything, or have needed any help or assistance. They have also encouraged me at times when I’ve found things tough. I know that they are on my side and really want me to succeed.They believe in me, and it helps me to believe in myself.

Our taught sessions are all delivered by teachers from within Victoria Academies Trust. They are experts in whichever subject they are delivering, and because they are current practitioners you know that what they are teaching you is relevant and up-to-date. They all really know their stuff, and that helps you to feel confident too. If you are unsure about anything, they are always approachable and willing to help, and you know that you can go to them with any questions you may have, at any point during the year.

I managed to secure a job within the Trust straight after my first placement; this has provided me with a real sense of security as I know that once I finish my training, not only have I got a job, but I am also already familiar with the school and the Trust. Experiencing the values of the Trust, including focus on family, innovation and doing good as you go, across all of their schools, has been inspiring. I am very excited that I will continue to be a part of it!

The children constantly put a smile on my face, every day, with the things that they say and do. There are also those special moments when, for example, you’re reading through a child’s exercise book, and they’ve put a great piece of writing together, and you can see the progress that they’ve made over the course of a few weeks or months, and you know that you have helped to make that to happen! It feels incredible.

As a group of trainees, for our last lecture, we got to experience ‘Forest School’, which is all about outdoor learning. It was an extremely rainy day, but that did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm! We all worked really hard together as a team, and got very muddy doing things like climbing trees, searching for local wildlife, and making shelters. We even made our own fire and toasted marshmallows on it! The training programme offers lots of unique opportunities like this.

Watch Sandy’s Video

More trainee stories

Find out what it’s like to train with Victoria Academies Teacher Training by viewing more of our trainee stories