Learning to Take on a Challenge; the Scottish Executive Have Been Working to Make Teaching More Appealing. We Speak to Three People Who've Taken the Plunge

Article excerpt

WITH 2007 just weeks away, it's the time of year where everyone starts to evaluate their career.

But if this year's work resolutions are just a dim and distant memory, perhaps it's time to start thinking about embarking on something new.

Today Teaching in Scotland not only delivers a rewarding and stimulating career but also helps you give something back to society.

Whether you're just starting your working career, or are thinking about switching paths, teaching has never looked so promising.

If you've already got a degree, you can opt to undertake a Postgraduate Diploma in Education course at any one of Scotland's seven higher education institutions.

Or you can gain a degree in education with a Bachelor of Education in Primary Education, Music, Physical Education or Technology.

There's even scope to do a concurrent degree where you don't have to make a decision on whether to study for a teaching qualification until the tail end of the second year.

Would-be teachers also have a one-year probationary period where they have access to the services of an experienced teacher.

And thanks to the McCrone Report, probation teachers can expect starting salaries in 2007 to be pounds 19,878 rising to pounds 31,707 for a 35-hour week.

But what is teaching really like? Here, KAREN STEWART talks to three teachers about their classroom experiences.

Arshad Mahmood Probationer IT graduate Arshad Mahmood has managed to teach two school subjects within the last decade - starting off as a maths teacher in Pakistan before becoming an IT teacher in Scotland.

In between the 33-year-old squeezed in a career as an network administrator and helpdesk co-ordinator before studying for his PGDE at Strathclyde University.

Now in his probationary year at Johnstone High School in Renfrewshire, Arshad is an active member of the group Recruiting Ethnic Minority Into Teaching and hopes to encourage more groups to take up the career.

Arshad said: "I taught maths in Pakistan before I moved to Scotland around 12 years ago and I decided to get into IT. I got a degree in computer networking from Paisley University and spent a few years working as a network administrator and a helpdesk co-ordinator. But I decided to get back into teaching and I'm loving it.

"I'm working as a computing teacher helping kids study for their Standard Grades and Highers, which is very rewarding.

"I got involved with REMIT last year and would like to see more people from ethnic minorities get into teaching. There aren't enough of us in Scottish schools yet there are many pupils who would benefit from having teachers with different backgrounds and cultures."

He added: "My advice for any group thinking of getting into teaching is to look at it as an exciting challenge and an opportunity to help develop culture in Scotland's schools."

Riz Ali-Shakur PGDE student FORMER textiles student Riz Ali-Shakur turned her life around after enrolling on the PGDE course at Strathclyde University.

For years the 27-year-old from Denny, Stirlingshire had jumped from one sales job to another after realising life as a designer wasn't for her.

But after contacting the uni about teaching, Riz realised a career swap was entirely within her grasp.

Now, just four months on, she's on her way to becoming part of Scotland's new generation of home economics teachers, learning the ropes in one of the highest performing departments in North Lanarkshire.

Riz explained: "When I realised I wasn't really cut out to be a designer I ventured into marketing and was moving from one sales job to another.

"When I first thought about teaching, I honestly didn't think that I would be qualified for any subject but when the uni suggested home economics I thought I would give it a go.

"I wasn't 100 per cent sure when I first started but I soon realised that it was the career that I'd been looking for all along. …