With a name like Miss English, it was perhaps inevitable that Tiegan English would embark on a teaching career.
The 20-year-old from Sunderland’s love of literature has seen her reach the final lap of an English literature and creative writing degree at Northumbria University before she graduates in the summer.
Her passion for English and her natural ability to nurture young people has seen her gain a place on a SCITT course with Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust (BCCET), which is a Teach First training partner.
She is “super excited” to start her teaching placement in September at Sunderland’s St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, which is part of BCCET.
“Teaching English is what I’ve wanted to do since I started my A Levels,” said Tiegan.
“My teachers really brought English to life for me and I wanted to ignite that passion in other young people.”
A pivotal moment for Tiegan was when she started volunteering every Friday at Box Youth and Community Project in Sunderland working with children and young people when she was 17.
As well as gaining valuable experience, she also spotted that some young people were really worried about their GCSE English exams and were struggling with poetry, so she volunteered to start a poetry group.
“I had just started doing my A Levels so I knew the GCSE English literature curriculum really well,” she said.
“They were really passionate about it but they were struggling. They came back to show me their scores and they had gone from Grades 4 to 7. I was so happy for them.
“That was the key moment that I knew this was what I should do.”
When a Teach First representative visited her college when she was studying for her A Levels, she knew that was the career path she wanted to take.
At university, she took on a role as a student support advisor which has given her invaluable experience working with young people.
“My degree has given me the subject knowledge and my job at uni has given me the pastoral experience,” said Tiegen.
“I’m so excited for my career to start.
“I was walking to work when I found out I got my place. I phoned my parents, my partner, my grandparents and friends. I was so happy. I had been really nervous but everyone at my interview was so lovely and caring.
“I want to be a secondary school teacher as I want to be part of pupils’ later development and help them fulfil their potential. It’s a stressful time in your life – you’re finding your identity, new friendships, GCSEs, everything is changing, and you’re discovering what your favourite subjects are and what you want to do when you leave school.
“There is a lot of pastoral care as part of teaching, and I think that is the most valuable part.”
And she knows exactly how to tackle reluctant learners in class.
“Literature is absolutely everywhere from books to the scripts behind what you watch on TV and it’s showing young people that just because you may not like reading, you are around stories and literature all the time,” she added.
“There is always a way to connect. I ask young people what their favourite films are and work from there. Is it a film made from a book? Is there another book with similar themes I can share with them? Literature can be personalised to anyone. English is for everyone.
“My own favourite type of book is Gothic literature, from Sylvia Plath to Edgar Allan Poe – and I love analytical theories.”
Tiegan will spend the summer celebrating her 21st birthday and taking a well-earned break between university and starting the SCITT course – but she can’t resist a bit of extra reading.
“I will be looking at some past papers and reading up on the syllabus during the summer too, so I feel well prepared for September,” she added.
“I just can’t wait to start.”
The one-year School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme gives people hands-on experience in the classroom while they train. Trainee teachers will be interacting every day with pupils and working as a member of teaching staff in a school local to them. The intensive and weekly training was developed in partnership with curriculum design experts at Teach First to ensure a quality research-led programme.
Their approach includes: Online and face to face training; subject and phase specific training combined with effective teaching methods; support from skilled and knowledgeable mentors; Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) on graduation.
Suzanne Robbins, BCCET’s director of teacher development, said: “We are delighted to have launched our own SCITT programme in partnership with Teach First.
“We are determined to be a highly aspirational organisation with the highest quality professional development opportunities at the heart of our work. We want to ensure that teachers have the highest quality professional development opportunities from the start of their career, and we want to strengthen recruitment and retention.”
To find out more about the Trust’s SCITT programme, email: [email protected]