Maria's return to teaching story

Published 21 April 2021
By Maria Bateson

Returning teacher, Maria Bateson

Maria Bateson completed her teacher training in Oxford in 2005 after achieving a degree in Microbiology and Immunology at Leeds. She spent 4 years in teaching, becoming the deputy head of a science department, until her husband was posted to Ukraine as part of his Foreign Office role. After more than 10 years outside of the profession, Maria re-entered the classroom in November 2020. She shares her story here.

Getting into teaching

At university I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was involved in a group as part of my Student Union that took children who had a relationship with social services to the Yorkshire Dales for outdoor pursuits weekends.

This experience along with the training aspect of my role encouraged me to look into teaching. I wanted to make use of my degree and encourage more girls into science, so secondary science was the obvious choice.

Time outside the classroom

Although my husband was posted abroad, the plan was always to come back to England, and I maintained my link with education. I continued my work with School Science Review, a journal for science teachers, remotely. In Ukraine, I worked with local charities including orphanages and through the Embassy I helped find suitable schools for the children of diplomats.

When we briefly returned to the UK before another posting to Belgium, I volunteered at my eldest child’s school, working on science projects, going on school trips, and participating in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

Getting back to teaching

In our final year in Belgium, I contacted my teacher friends who suggested some reading that would help me catch up on changes to the curriculum and new ideas on teaching practice.

I also came across the Return to Teaching Adviser Support Service and spoke with Billy Bone, a Return to Teaching Adviser, who was able to answer most of my questions about the practicalities of returning to the classroom. It was great to be in touch with someone to chat about it all. I joined their Facebook group, which had some interesting tips, training and live information events which were great to watch.

I spent some time on LinkedIn introducing myself to local headteachers in London. One of them was keen to speak with me further and invited me to visit the school on my return. This went well, and they were in touch a month later to tell me they had an opening.

Within 3 months of being back in the country, I was back in the classroom.

Back in the classroom

I started my new job share role in November 2020 working 2.5 days, which increased to 4 days at Christmas. The school have been so welcoming and accommodating with my childcare arrangements.

I love being back in the classroom. There are things that have changed, but I had kept myself up to date, and you always have to adapt when you join a new school.

My advice for anyone who is thinking about returning is to go for it. Get in touch with teachers who you can chat with and contact headteachers directly. Think carefully about the type of school you want to work in and visit some. Yes, things will have changed, but kids are still kids.

If you’re a trained teacher who is looking to return to the classroom, find more information about how the Department for Education can help.

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