Embracing a new challenge

Peter Bassett, maths teacher

Peter Bassett, maths teacher

Peter is a maths teacher at Coopers School in Chislehurst, but for 27 years he worked in finance in London. Having raised his own family and enjoyed a successful career in the city, he wanted to pursue one of his long-term ambitions, and chose to make the switch to teaching a couple of years ago by enrolling on a School Direct (salaried) course with Bromley Schools’ Collegiate.

“I’d been working in the same role for many years and I was no longer feeling challenged. So I had a decision to make: stay in my finance role, or give myself a new break,” he explains.

With teaching always in the back of his mind, Peter saw it as a career that would offer him the challenge he was looking for and the opportunity to give something back. Being used to full-time employment, he was keen to dive in and get straight on with the job – and School Direct (salaried) allowed him direct access to the classroom and plenty of practical support.

“There was always someone there for me. Given my experience, I wanted to try and take every step on my own but having different members of staff observing and giving me advice really made a difference,” he says. 

Peter has also been able to apply a lot of his previous career experience to teaching, including his interpersonal skills – and he’s certainly enjoyed the transition from working with colleagues to teaching students.

“I’d gained a lot of experience of working with people who have different skill sets and approaches, and it really helps when faced with a classroom of students that all have different approaches, ideas and attitudes,” he explains.

“Having worked with adults all my life, I was used to dealing with people who are prepared to sit and listen to you. Now that I’m working with children, I really have to earn their respect – and it’s extremely rewarding to have a student come out of a lesson and thank you, or receive an email from a parent telling you how much impact you’ve had on their child’s learning.”

Far from finding his career change daunting, Peter says he relishes the chance to make a difference in his new profession.

“It is a clean slate and it’s a new challenge; it’s opened up a lot of new opportunities for me. I look forward to the next 10 to 15 years with great excitement,” he concludes. “Of course, there are highs and lows in teaching, but the highs are immeasurable. You might have a child who starts the lesson not particularly focused because they’re struggling with the subject. As you guide them and encourage them, their understanding increases and all of a sudden they’ve got their hand up to answer a question. That light-bulb moment really gives you a buzz.”

Find out more about changing your career to teach.

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