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Career Focus - The World of Teaching

REOTAS Teacher - Gill Locker

Gill is the teacher in charge of the REOTAS (Reintegration and Education Otherwise Than At School) centre in Whitby, North Yorkshire.


The Interview

Name Gill Locker

Location Whitby, North Yorkshire

Family husband - Keith(self-employed painter & decorator of some local repute), son - Ethan just turned 14 and daughter - Hope 12.

Job title - Teacher-in-charge of Centre

How did you become a Teacher? What is your background?

I was born and bred in Whitby, brought up by my mum along with my 2 older brothers and 2 younger brothers.We had very little money and lived on the council estate that the Business Centre in which I work is situated. Many of the families in the area are the same families from my childhood. Indeed many are in the same house as their parents were brought up in.

I think I always wanted to be a teacher and was lucky enough to find school work fairly easy, which is just as well as there was never any time or space or peace and quiet to do homework at home. I did a teaching degree at Crewe & Alsager College. I chose there because one of my teachers had been there to do P.E. and said it was good.

How did you choose your subject?

My original training was as a Primary teacher with a P.E. specialism.

What training course/s did you do?

B.Ed.(Hons.) 4 year course.

How did you get involved with REOTAS?

On leaving College I returned to Whitby to get married and accepted a job at my own old secondaty school as a temporary measure...13 years later(!) I was ready for a change. By then I had my 2 children and worked 0.6 at the same school. My mum looked after my children when I was at work.

Then someone asked me to do some "home tuition" this was not private tuition, but teaching at home provided by the LEA for children too ill to attend school. This "out of school" service is what developed into the REOTAS (Reintegration and Education Otherwise Than At School) service. Small centres were set up where the then home tutors could arrange to meet the students that were well enough to leave home but not well enough to attend school.

We also had to cater for any child that was excluded from school, because legally, they are still entitled to an education. This original vision has now developed into a thriving centre with more than 30 students being catered for. Most of the students are being educated with us because they were on the brink of being excluded from school. So, to avoid an exclusion in the statistics, an alternative package of education is arranged. This can include work experience, a vocational college course at the local F.E. college and some time with us doing their GCSEs. We try to get 5 GCSEs for those who are able and everyone is encouaged to continue with maths, english and science as a minimum.

Is the job very different to being a 'standard' teacher in a 'normal' school?

There are many similarities but also vast differences. Because we deal with so few children, we are able to listen to them and give them the individual attention they crave. We are able to genuinely know their parent(s) and sibling situation. Infact, to know a great deal about thier home life and try to make a genuine connection to them. All the teaching staff - 5 of us altogether, teach the whole variety of subjects.

How many hours do you work a week?

Full time. I am in work just after 8.30 after dropping my kids off at their school. Then I work straight through the day with not a single minute away from students, as we only have one room. And although on the time-table there should be a half hour break for lunch, the reality is that the kids in for the morning stay later and the kids coming in for the afternoon arrive early! At 3.30 , I finally get rid of all the tail enders and go to collect my own kids from school. I take them home. Then either return to work for an hour or so, or do some preparation at home.

How does the job fit round your family life?

It fits really well, I devised the timing of our school day so that I would always be able to take my own kids to school and pick them up at home time.

What is the earning potential?

I am at the top of my earning potential now, there is no promotion available at the centre. I earn about £34,000. I am on TLR 2 - which is the lowest possible increment above basic classroom teacher's pay. I am not paid any extra for the fact that all of our students have special needs.

Is the job rewarding?

Fantastically so. I love it. I am often teaching the children of my own peers, and I really want to turn things around for them. We are usually very successful with them.

What is the most challenging aspect of the job?

The kids

What is the best thing in your opinion about being a REOTAS teacher?

Being able to make a big difference to kids' long term prospects.

Do you think it is a job that fits in well with being a Mum?

Yes, but mostly because I have been able to set the timings of the day to suit parents with children at school.

Any advice for a Mum or Dad wanting to start training or looking to work for REOTAS?

It is a specialist area of teaching, and I think you have to be a certain kind of person to want to work with these challenging kids. In some areas there may well be part-time work available in the centres or, like us, they may also be sending teachers into homes to teach those kids who are unable to cope in, or get into a centre provision.


For more information visit:www.teachernet.gov.uk

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