Encouraging women to enter the field of education is very important and the aim of the panel discussion was to show the breadth of career opportunities in the education sector as well as hearing from the varied experiences of our panellists. We were joined by Laura McInerny, an education journalist; Dame Rachel de Souza, the CEO of Inspiration Trust; Maud Millar, the Head of Education in an EdTech firm; and Professor Deborah Eyre, a widely-published author known for her expertise in how people think and learn.
Each of our panelists had entered teaching from less traditional routes, for example PPE study and KPMG, and Teach First also featured in two of their career paths. They found inspiration from stories of other female head teachers and professionals in the field, especially in failing schools to improve the quality of education. The recent boost to school investment and improvement allowed standards of teaching to be enhanced as well. This was also necessary to combat any educational inequality in regards to access to Russell group universities and other forms of work and higher education. They also discussed variance between different students’ ability to learn and how to make the education system accessible to the greatest amount of student, such as adapting lesson structure and proving sufficient resources.
Our panelists also mentioned that education proves many opportunities for example working as a teacher whilst carrying out research and then transitioning into higher education roles. This therefore allows career development and more autonomous approaches to work than other career paths may offer, an attractive feature of teaching for many. Moreover, if you specialise in a specific area of research or expertise, there is the potential to set up your own business and provide services to other countries using the experience you have gained. Education is of global importance and therefore provides many opportunities for travel in different cultures and work with many different students.
‘You don’t have to work in the classroom to contribute to education’ was an important message, as you may work in business or government organisations which support education. There is clearly the link and sometimes disparity between government thinking and the real life situations in the hundreds of UK schools. Therefore, new talent is always needed to align the political, financial (£30 Billion per year) and societal needs with the quality of schools’ welfare and curriculum. It is an exciting prospect that your ideas and approaches may be a unique approach to a problem, and the ability to be a ‘pathfinder’ allows the use of creative and logical thinking. Overall there are many different career options above and beyond the ones that are commonly known about and working in education is a ‘fascinating thing to do’. Working in education is the ability to use your drive and vision to better the state of the education system in the UK and therefore anyone considering pursuing any related areas as a career path could look into internships and graduate schemes.