Tom Ricketts is a newly-qualified Spanish secondary school teacher whose energy and professionalism recently earned him his university’s prize for inspirational teaching.
Tom is one of a number of high-calibre graduates who secured a Languages Teacher Training Scholarship (LTTS), a Department for Education initiative to promote excellence in language learning in schools through the recruitment of quality teaching candidates.
He didn’t grow up knowing that he wanted to teach, but after completing a degree in Spanish and Linguistics, and immersing himself in Spanish culture while he was a British Council English Language Assistant, Tom discovered that teaching was the career path for him.
‘I love my role as I get to use my degree every day and convey my passion for languages and passing that on to my students’, he enthuses. ‘Every day is so different and so varied which keeps the role interesting and enjoyable.’
Tom’s year as a trainee teacher and languages scholar
After graduating from university, Tom obtained a place on a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) course at Warwick University. At the same time, he successfully applied to the Languages Teacher Training Scholarship (LTTS) programme through the British Council to secure financial support and additional learning opportunities to complement the training offered by his PGCE.
Tom says: ‘Aside from the financial support, which was great, the LTTS really supported me with an abundance of resources and opportunities for further training as well as continuing professional development. It was all really useful during my training year’.
He continues: ‘I particularly enjoyed the day at the Houses of Parliament as it was so interesting and relevant to see current modern foreign languages issues discussed in depth.’
Life as a Newly-Qualified Teacher (NQT)
Tom undertook his training year through the school direct route with Caludon Castle School in Coventry, and started his full-time teaching role with the school following successful completion of his PGCE.
‘Taking this route was the best decision for me and I’m so glad to have continued my NQT year with the school. Like most jobs there are many challenging situations in teaching, however you are very supported as an NQT so there are always more experienced teachers that you can turn to’.
He continues: ‘I am constantly using tips and techniques that I learnt from the LTTS webinars. The days spent at the Languages Show Live and Languages World were also so beneficial and I continue to use the resources and connections in my classroom today’.
‘The most rewarding aspect of teaching is the opportunity to make a real difference to a child’s life - whether that be in your lessons and students really responding to what you teach, or more pastorally and being able to help students personally.’
Tom’s advice for aspiring teachers
Tom’s enthusiasm for his chosen profession extends beyond the classroom: alongside his full-time teaching role, Tom supports the Department for Education as a Teaching Advocate, meeting with prospective applicants at recruitment events and helping to guide them through the process.
Reflecting on his own experiences he is able to offer advice to aspiring language teachers. ‘Now is a great time to be a teacher as things are constantly changing and being developed’, he asserts. ‘We use new and exciting strategies to teach languages all the time which keep things interesting for teachers and students. It really is such a rewarding role and it couldn’t have been a better career choice for me.’
He continues: ‘If you think it’s a career for you then look into the training options that might interest you and get some experience, even just a day, in a school to see what’s happening and how you might fit in in education today’.
He adds: ‘The Languages Teacher Training Scholarship is a wonderful support throughout your training and will really help you to forge a solid foundation for a long and fruitful career in languages teaching.’
The Languages Teacher Training Scholarship programme welcomes candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds. For full scholarship eligibility criteria and programme details, please visit the Languages Teacher Training Scholarships page.