Meet the Trainees

Where better to find out about what it's like to train with the Astra SCITT than from people who've done it themselves. Read on to find out more about some of our 2018-19 cohort, and their invaluable advice for our current and future trainees...... 

Shazia Khaliq (Secondary Computer Science)

Shazia Khaliq

Why did you choose to train to teach, and why did you choose Astra?

Becoming a teacher was a complete career change for me, I had worked in the IT industry for 18 years. I was made redundant and then decided to work in a school as an IT Technician. This gave me a flavour for the secondary school environment, I have always loved working in IT and had various technical roles. Working alongside teachers helped me to recognise the importance of good teaching in my chosen subject area. I realised that my passion for computing would help me relay in my chosen subject area.

I chose Astra as a training provider because of its good reputation amongst all the secondary schools in this area. I realised early that they had a strong working relationship with the schools in their partnership and this made my decision easy.  Having the opportunity to select your placement school helped me organise my personal life from the outset, which made me feel confident. Throughout the year Astra provide guided support with weekly training and the weekly reminder emails helped me stay focused and on task.

Where were your placements schools?  What were they like?
 

My main placement school was the Royal Grammar School (RGS), which I thoroughly enjoyed. My mentor was very flexible and a positive role model for me. RGS is a boys grammar school which has 50 min lessons. Planning 50 min constructive lessons was a challenge for me at the beginning but with my mentors support, I was able to deliver constructive lessons quickly. I really didn't understand the importance of doing two different placements, until I had actually completed my second placement. The two contrasting placements allow you to build relationships and use various teaching styles to suit the cohort of pupils that you have in front of you. You learn to adapt to your environment quickly and build relationships with students and teaching staff.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered during your training year?

The biggest challenge for me was during my second placement.  This was a mixed comprehensive school, which had a number of broad SEN and learner abilities in each class. Due to the wide spectrum of students and their lening needs, I needed to adapt and my pace my teaching style to individuals and the classes quickly. The contrasting placements really helped me apply different teaching styles in my classroom.

What were your ‘highlights’ and major accomplishments during the training year?

My major accomplishment was maintaining the drive and commitment to achieve my QTS. Ultimately, for me, this was winning the 'Resilience Award' at the Astra Awards evening. I was nominated by my peers, the current Astra trainees. Working alongside so many amazing trainees helped me through the training process, the catch up over a coffee on a Wednesday helped me realise that I wasn't alone and that we were all in the same position - this ultimately reassured me.

What are you doing now, and what is your ultimate career ambition?

Due to Astra's strong links with secondary schools in the area, I was able to apply and get a job after February half term. Having gained a job so early on really motivated me, and became the driving factor to completing my QTS. I could see light at the end of a tunnel. Working at The Misbourne School as a Computer Science teacher, for now getting into my role as an NQT is my objective for this year. My ultimate ambition would be to become a Curriculum Leader.

What advice do you have for the next Astra cohort of trainees?

Astra is an amazing place to train. You will meet some amazing people and you won't be alone.  If teaching is the career for you, you are definitely in safe hands, you will be given the guidance and support you need to succeed. Have lots of enthusiasm and enjoy the year.

 

Liz Herrera (Secondary MFL Spanish)

 

Liz Herrera

Why did you choose to train to teach, and why did you choose Astra?

I chose to train to teach because I had been teaching Spanish for 14 years with Bucks Adult Learning and I also had experience with GCSE and A level students who I tutored. I thought the best way would be to train with a SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) as both of my children are at Secondary School and this teacher training route is designed and delivered by groups of neighbouring schools and colleges which sounded convenient for my personal situation. I had seen banners and adverts for Astra and thought, initially, this is probably too difficult for me, and the calibre of students would be much higher than me, especially as I had been out of education myself for more than 20 years! I suspected that the new graduates would beat me to it but I was pleasantly surprised when my UCAS application was accepted! 

 

Where were your placements schools?  What were they like?

My placement schools were very local (The Royal Grammar School (RGS), my first choice and my main placement school, a selective all-boys Grammar School.  Holmer Green Senior School (HGSS, a non-selective upper school, was my second placement.) The RGS is a former language college and the department is outstanding with an extremely dedicated, talented and approachable team of staff. HGSS has a much smaller department. However the MFL Staff’s dedication to ensure the students were receiving excellent language lessons despite some students’ barriers to learning was commendable. 

What was the biggest challenge you encountered during your training year?
 

Teaching French! I have a joint honours degree in French and Hispanic Studies,  but I had never formally taught French and although I had used it a few times in my places of employment, I had to teach myself some basic grammar again….it all came flooding back as I had obviously had excellent French teachers at school myself!

What were your ‘highlights’ and major accomplishments during the training year?
 

Forming relationships with some tricky students has been a highlight. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some students who were incredibly disengaged, by the end of my 6-week placement, smile and tell me how much they had enjoyed my lessons. The enrichment weeks were really amazing and the placement opportunities that Astra offered were really unique. I will never forget my week at Alfriston School and a very special few days at the Pupil Referral Unit in High Wycombe.

What are you doing now, and what is your ultimate career ambition?
 

I am teaching at the Beaconsfield School. I think it is important to take a job where you think you will have co-workers who you will be able to get along with, and my ultimate career ambition is to work with disadvantaged and disengaged students so they can aspire and achieve, and make it to the end of Year11 having completed their GCSE’s and having made progress.

What advice do you have for the next Astra cohort of trainees?
 

Have high standards and expectations of yourself, but learn when to cut corners. Listen to everything everyone tells you. Take all advice, and don’t think you know more than they do.  You will soon know anyway which teachers and mentors are good! Follow their lead and be humble. And kind to your students. And look out for your fellow trainees and LISTEN in all of your professional studies sessions as these are priceless, well thought-out sessions which are run by people who know what they are talking about!  

Thank you Astra for a really wonderful year!