Published On: August 4, 2022|773 words|3.9 min read|
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Why AP is a rewarding career move for more than just teachers

Teaching is one of the oldest professions in the world. We’ve all heard the infamous phrase ‘those who can, teach’ and this vocation to help others through knowledge has been passed down for centuries. Socrates to NQT’s lining up their first Autumn term classrooms, teaching has never stood still.

From stone tablet to iPad, cave painting to interactive white board and with each new set of government guidelines and annual reviews we’ve come to realise that one size does not fit all – for staff or pupils.

Most ‘mainstream’ teaching jobs require a degree, ITT, NQT, PGCE, the list goes on. And quite rightly so you may think. The people we trust with teaching the next generation should be well educated and knowledge experts in their chosen topic. That said, as growing demands on staff shape modern-day education, there is room for teaching staff who bring life experience and other skills to the table.

Many mainstream schools are at capacity if not oversubscribed. Lots of teachers work hours they’re not paid for. They spend their own money buying materials to teach in a way that positively impacts their pupils. Many are under extreme pressure to perform miracles with traditional curriculum pathways that simply don’t suit all children. Children who ultimately are left out.

That’s where alternative provision comes in with the potential to revolutionise the very idea of ‘getting an education’.

People who are naturally empathetic teach alternative provision. Some are career shifters, coming into the sector from industries such as youth work, social care, HM armed forces, prison service or NHS workers with experience of behavioural management in everyday settings.

Now Teach  is a charity which supports experienced people to change career and become teachers. Katie Waldegrave, their Director and Co-founder says:

“We’re really proud that a number of our teachers are choosing to work in AP settings and SEN schools. Where possible we connect candidates to our network and other educational organisations to find suitable AP roles. While their career paths are different, ie, not traditional teachers training or education degrees, they have included previous experience of working with children and young people with additional needs, for example, as a swimming coach.

“All bring valuable life experience and an understanding of the complexity of life. They come from a vast array of different professional backgrounds, but are united by a shared sense of moral purpose and desire to pass on some of their skills and experiences to the next generation. They bring valuable knowledge of other sectors, new networks and fresh ideas; I’m always particularly pleased when I hear that someone has found the perfect match for their skills is outside the mainstream.”

Alternative provision teaching is a role that requires truckloads of patience, compassion and drive.

It’s also hugely rewarding.

It’s not just newcomers or career changers that are attracted to AP. Many current staff have returned to work and dedicated their time as a legacy project. Giving something back to young people to ensure they can thrive is a truly humbling experience. With all that life experience, there’s so much more to learn than just the traditional curriculum.

Building trust, getting to know the whole pupil and understanding their struggles helps to develop collaborative ways of working. It can have amazing results.

Sean O’Dell joined Progress Schools in 2017 as a Teacher and quickly progressed to Head of School at Thrapston. Sean has since taken up the role of Systems, Staff Training & Development Manager.

As with all jobs, there can be tough days, but for Sean, the abundance of rewards that came from supporting young people made it all worthwhile.

“Teaching can be a thankless task at times. But after a long enough timeline, you’ll find that incredibly challenging student return to shake your hand and thank you for helping them to get a qualification, a job, or a place at college. That’s what makes the difference.

“You’ll have concrete evidence you’ve made an impact and that’s what’ll make you stick around and be proud of the work you do.”

Progress School staff teams are like a family. From Heads of School to Head Teachers, Teachers, Teaching Assistants and Pastoral Mentors. Working collaboratively with pupils and their families gives everyone the best possible chance of helping a pupil fulfil their potential.

Progress Schools is hiring now. To find out more about current job vacancies in alternative provision, head to or follow us on Twitter @SchoolsProgress

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