FE Consultant, Ann Gravells, stumbled upon working in Further Education by chance. We spoke to her about training whilst teaching, to find out what advice she would give to new teachers.
Here at TeachInFE we understand that the idea of becoming a teacher if you’ve never had any previous training can be daunting. We spoke to FE Consultant, Ann Gravells, who gained her teaching qualifications once she had started working in Further Education, to give potential teachers a first-hand account of what it is really like.
With a wealth of professional teaching experience behind her and her own FE consultancy firm, Ann Gravells Ltd, Ann has a lot of advice available to teachers within the sector who are either just starting out or looking to advance their career by gaining new qualifications. Ann told us about how she got involved with FE, her teaching experiences and working as an FE Consultant.
When did you start teaching?
I started teaching in a Further Education College in 1983. I originally qualified as a hotel receptionist and trained new staff on the job at various hotels in England. I was approached by a College to teach the Hotel Reception course on a part time basis and this was the beginning of my teaching career.
Did you have a teaching qualification beforehand or did you train ‘on the job’?
I took my first teaching qualification in 1984, a year after I started teaching. Once I had qualified I progressed to full time teaching and worked towards a Degree in Education and a PGCE. After I qualified, I continued to teach reception, business and office skills, along with word processing when it replaced typing. A few years later I gained a promotion and delivered staff training programmes and the assessor and verifier awards. I found a real interest in training new members of staff, which led me to move to the teacher training department of the College.
I then became the Quality Systems Manager for the College and produced a system for assessment and internal verification to standardise practice across 98 different qualifications. I also designed and introduced an ISO based quality system for all aspects of quality assurance within the College.
Since then I have also gained a Master’s Degree in Educational Management. I am now a Fellow of the Society for Education and Training, hold QTLS status and am a Licentiate of City and Guilds.
How challenging was it getting your teaching qualifications whilst working?
It was hard to study, to continue working and to have a home life. I didn’t do very well at school so it was daunting to start learning again. However, I loved it, I was really keen to learn and to put my new knowledge into practice. I think you have to make a commitment once you start and set aside time each week to study. It took me many years to achieve my qualifications on a part time basis. Some of the things I learnt didn’t make sense at the time, but they do now I’ve had time to put everything I learnt into practice.
What advice do you give teachers that are just starting their teaching career, particularly to those that, like you did, are looking to gain their teaching qualifications on the job?
Don’t give in! When times are hard and you feel under pressure, just keep going. If you are keen to pass on your skills and knowledge to others, you can make a real difference to someone’s life and career. It can be hard work but it’s very rewarding. It’s good if you have the support of your family as they won’t see as much of you whilst you are studying.
I’ve added some tips for new teachers on my website: http://www.anngravells.com/information/tips
You now run your own consultancy firm, do you still teach?
After leaving full time teaching, I worked for many years as a part time teacher. I also worked for several awarding organisations and started writing text books. It was during this time that I established my own consultancy company, Ann Gravells Ltd. I currently deliver staff development and training, CPD sessions and speak at conferences. I’ve been lucky to work in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. I am organising an event in Leeds on 9th June 2017 if anyone would like to attend.
What do you enjoy about working as an FE consultant?
My main passion is to help and support new entrants to the FE and Skills sector. I enjoy providing advice and information to teachers, trainers, assessors, and quality assurers who are just beginning their teaching journey. I love meeting new people and networking.
What is your favourite thing about working in Further Education?
I feel FE gives people the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge. A job is no longer necessarily for life, therefore a change in career is often inevitable and FE can give people access to new career opportunities.
Social media: Ann Gravells