An alternative lifestyle

A new lifestyle awaited science teacher Martin Dand as he began teaching on the Flexible Route.

Science Teacher and Flexible Route probationer

Although I graduated from St. Andrews in the 90s, I did my initial teacher training in England. I had always planned to settle in Scotland but those first jobs took me on a longish detour.

It took me almost a decade to come to the realisation that I didn't feel fulfilled in industrial based jobs. Once I had decided to teach, the plan was to do my probation in England, where I had studied, and move north afterwards.

By the end of that year I decided I was just prevaricating and that a change in lifestyle was needed.

Making the move

It was quite scary moving up as I had no idea how easy or hard it would be to find work and how different I would find the Scottish system from the English and Welsh.

As a Flexible Route probationer I was aware that it would take a little longer and that I would be reliant on finding supply work to rack up the teaching hours.

This is probably the most daunting part of this route into the profession as it makes it difficult to plan for the future. Unless you have savings it means that when the schools break up you need to find alternative employment.

This could have been a major headache for me but I got lucky. By mid-November I was at Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) and was required for the whole year as a subject specialist.

Being with the same teachers for a prolonged period I was able to get advice and support.

From this I will tell anyone planning on taking this route that it is invaluable to get longer term positions as it allows you to develop all the skills and relations with pupils that make up a successful teaching and learning partnership.

As I was only on supply I was not entitled to the official mentoring and CPD of induction probationers but just on the basis of being with the same teachers and support staff for a prolonged period I was able to get advice and support.

I enjoyed my time at WHEC but at the end of the year I was still looking at needing a summer job and with nowhere to go in August. Again I got luckier than most.

A lucky break

A probationer was supposed to start at Drummond Community High School (DCHS) but found an alternative place in the private sector. The PT at Drummond asked around and my PT at WHEC passed my name on. I've now been at DCHS for a year and have just finished my Final Report.

This was a particularly lucky break as the post was set up for a probationer and DCHS even sent me on the CPD that the probationer would have got.

I don't know if my experiences are typical of the non-induction route but I am very glad I did not have to jump from school to school without being able to settle I any one place.

From the point of view of an Englishman in Scotland I've got to say that having 20 pupils in a lab is a vastly different experience from having 36 pupils.

The teaching of discreet sciences rather than dual/triple award GCSE and the presence of a sixth year in almost all schools makes teaching a decidedly more attractive proposition here than down south.

Whilst the non-induction route can be a bit scary and uncertain, it seems to have panned out for me and I would tell anyone not to let the lack of the security of the induction scheme put them off teaching.