A new government programme is offering Army-leavers a route into a classroom career, bringing their invaluable skills and experience with them. In the latest expansion of this ‘Troops to Teachers’ scheme, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has announced the University of Reading as one of seven partner Universities to roll-out the programme across the country.
A soldier for 24 years, Euan Andrews’ whole working life was spent serving with the airborne forces in the UK, which included operational tours of Iraq, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. Originally trained as an Army chef, over the years Euan rose through the ranks, finally being put in charge of catering for all soldiers in the UK.
By 2014, Euan was ready for his next move – life after the Army. He faced this equipped with a unique skill set and a drive to serve others, a legacy of a life devoted to the Services and one that would stand him in good stead in his chosen new career of teaching.
Teaching had always been an aspiration of Euan’s during his Army days, but the sheer level of other commitments meant that it was one he never achieved then. It became the obvious next step as his Service neared its end, so during his last few years in the Army, Euan paved the way for his dream by studying with the Open University. There, fired with a renewed passion for education and mathematics, he set himself firmly on the road to his new career as a maths teacher.
Euan’s change of career was enabled by the Government’s Troops to Teachers programme that targets Service-leavers with the potential to become outstanding teachers. The prestigious two‐year, employment‐based‘advanced standing’ programme leads to an honours degree with Qualified Teacher Status.
From the beginning of his Troops to Teachers training, Euan has been supported in both mathematical and teaching skills by the University of Reading. He started his new life equipped with a ‘link tutor’ from the University’s renowned Institute of Education, who became both his principle point of contact and a source of support and advice.
Like other trainee teachers enrolled on the programme, Euan will spend four days a week in his school over a two year training period. During this time, he will also engage in degree-level scheduled learning activities on ‘Study Fridays’ and attend intensive residential study weeks.
As a teacher, Euan points to his years of Army training as a huge resource. He sees many similarities between the Services and teaching: “A teacher works extremely hard, often putting others before themselves. They are extremely loyal to their students and devote their time to achieving goals and targets. This has huge similarities. My confidence and people skills have also been extremely useful.”
When asked what skills translate most helpfully from the Services to schools, Euan is humorously quick to dispel any myths of parade-ground sternness spilling into the classroom: “Soldiers are not the autocratic disciplinarians that some stereotypes portray! For instance, I am a family man who can play many parts; a good actor when required and very capable of using my judgment to determine which part I need to be playing in order to achieve the desired effect.”
A skill that is key to classroom success, as every teacher knows.