For Nick McIvor, a maths teacher at St Marylebone Church of England girls’ school in central London, there is no such thing as an average day at work. He is responsible for ensuring pupils engage with new concepts and learn quickly. To achieve this, teachers strive to make lessons as relevant and exciting as possible. “I want to explain maths to kids who don’t know how great maths is.”
According to the Teaching Agency, highly qualified graduates are increasingly switching on to this challenging and rewarding profession. More than seven out of 10 new trainee teachers now have a high-quality degree. In maths alone, 62 per cent had a 2:1 degree or higher in 2012, compared to 51 per cent in 2010.
McIvor’s 2:1 in maths from the University of York has put him in good stead. “I’ve been surprised by how much of the higher level maths I draw on,” he says. “I reference obscure bits of mathematics. I’m trying to give students a sense of ‘wow, I didn’t know that’.”
Routes into the profession include conventional training courses and the new school-led School Direct route. Today’s trainees could also receive a tax-free training bursary of up to £20,000 and the average starting salary for teachers now stands at £23,010. It’s a rewarding career that offers exciting challenges and encourages talented individuals to excel.
McIvor’s path was unusual. “After university, I went to drama school and spent 10 years working as an actor and a writer,” he explains.
He retrained as a teacher – and his background has nurtured a unique approach in the classroom. “I’ve been teaching my students to say their times tables backwards while doing a silly juggling routine. It’s a technique you use to give authenticity to people’s acting. I’m playing the same game – I’m trying to distract students from the thing they're learning so that the thing I want them to do becomes natural.”
McIvor’s rise as a teacher has been meteoric. Securing his first permanent teaching job in 1997, he had progressed to head of maths and ICT by 2000. He puts his success down to enthusiasm: “Kids do maths because they have to. My job is to open their minds and convince them that maths is a subject that presents fantastic opportunities.”
Why not use your maths expertise in teaching? Applications to conventional and School Direct teacher training courses starting in 2013/14 are now open. Apply early to ensure you’re considered by your first choice training provider or school.
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