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Swapping Forces for courses - firm puts veterans into classrooms

April 14, 2022

Swapping Forces for courses – firm puts veterans into classrooms

A specialist recruitment company that matches schools and teachers is helping ex-service personnel go from troops to teaching assistants, after devising its own fast-track internship course.

Sunderland-based Premier Teachers, which provides teachers and support staff to schools, colleges and academies across the North East, is working with the Career Transition Partnership to pilot a new 12-week internship that has been designed to support personnel leaving the armed forces to make a successful transition into employment.

Founded by experienced teacher Mike Donnelly in 2013, the recruitment company will be launching the streamlined, fast-track course in April, giving ex-service personnel the opportunity to benefit from paid work-based learning in local schools, with a view to permanent employment.

Mike said: "I was speaking to one of my good friends who has just come out of the army and he told me about the careers support available to ex-service personnel. A lot of people coming out of the forces don't have any qualifications that enable them to go into other sectors and they often get pigeonholed, working in the likes of security roles.

"Here at Premier Teachers, we have a huge demand for candidates for support staff and teaching assistants in schools. We have a proven training route for teaching assistant internships, which has been a massive success across the whole of the North East, working in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Moving to a partnership with ex-forces personnel who are resilient and disciplined seemed a logical step and we are delighted to be chosen as the North East and Cumbrian partner with the Career Transition Partnership to raise awareness of education careers and training.

"We're a solution focussed business and we're always looking to innovate and think of new ways to solve the challenges candidates and schools face. We are also in talks with teacher training organisations to develop a progression route from teaching assistant to teachers."

Premier Teachers is hosting a virtual group event called 'Get into Education - Pathways into the Education Sector' on Wednesday April 27 to raise awareness of education careers and the 12-week paid internship. The event will also cover how candidates can progress onto higher level teaching assistant (HLTA), cover supervisor and teaching roles.

Mike added: "We already have a number of schools in the region interested in the project and as an experienced teacher myself, I know what is required and expected. The beauty of it is, the work-based learning is paid and there are real jobs on offer - we want to get candidates into schools as soon as possible"

It's hoped the fast-track internship will boost employment and support the veteran community in the region, as well as allow schools and students to benefit from the unique skills and insight a military career provides. 

Mike said: "I think Sunderland City Council have been outstanding, right through the pandemic when we struggled. They were there to support us when the schools shut and were superb helping us access financial assistance for our recruitment app we launched in 2020.

"We shared our plans for the project to help get ex-service personnel into teaching and they immediately saw the value."

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: "We're proud to support Premier Teachers and its fantastic initiative to help veterans realise their potential. After making a huge contribution to society, veterans deserve our full support in transitioning to a new career."

To register for the 'Get into Education - Pathways into the Education Sector' event, or to find out more information about the fast-track course and how ex-service personnel can get a guaranteed interview, get in touch with Premier Teachers here: https://www.premierteachers.co.uk/

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