Make a difference to young people

Sarah Birt, maths teacher

Sarah Birt, career changer

Having completed a degree in psychology and with initial plans to be a clinical psychologist, Sarah had never really considered teaching as a career option. It was only after becoming a mental health researcher and discovering how much she enjoyed working with young people that she realised she might be even happier in teaching.

“I loved working with young people and loved building relationships with them,” says Sarah. “They were adolescents that were suffering from quite bad depression and anxiety disorders and I loved helping them. I also really enjoyed training people, so I thought if I became a teacher I could get more involved with young people at an earlier age, motivate them and get them more engaged in school.”

Before deciding to make the jump, Sarah arranged some school experience to ensure she had as much insight as possible on her potential new career path. “When I decided to become a teacher I thought I’d better make sure that it really was what I wanted to do and I thought there’d be no better way than going into some schools,” she says.

After a few weeks observing lessons and speaking to students, Sarah was convinced and set about starting her journey into teaching.

Deciding to teach maths, Sarah successfully applied for teacher training, but was advised to first complete a subject knowledge enhancement course to make the transition from psychology to maths smoother. “It was 6 months and online, which was good because it meant I could work at the same time as studying. I took part in online lectures and completed practice questions to buff up my knowledge. This made me feel better prepared for what lay ahead.”

Already leading GCSE classes with confidence and responsible for a tutor group, Sarah couldn’t be happier that she pursued teaching as a career. “I love being a tutor. It’s amazing. The children are so smiley in the morning. I love seeing them in the corridor, when they are really happy to see you.”

For anyone else looking to get into teaching, Sarah recommends getting as much experience first-hand as possible before making any decisions. “Go and suss it out; go into a school and see what it’s like. It’s not for everyone. Make sure it’s definitely something you want to commit quite a lot of your time to, before you take the next step going into it.”

Find out more about teaching maths and arranging school experience.