Samuel Ballantyne

AMP SCITT graduate: 2017

Current role: ICT and Computing Teacher, Assistant Head of House/ The Mosslands School

After an eight year career in the retail industry, I decided to change my career and become a Computer Science teacher. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my previous work and had progressed quickly, the work was not rewarding and provided little variation, hence the decision to enter the teaching profession.

I graduated from University with a BA Hons in Criminology and initially secured a job with Marks and Spencer. This experience formed my philosophy on leadership and personal development. I was able to further develop these skills for Apple Retail Inc when I was recruited to be an Expert in the Liverpool branch. I oversaw the Apple education programmes called ‘Field Trip’ and ‘Summer Camp’ where local schools and home-schooled children attended the store to use our facilities where I would teach them to create media using various devices.

This had a profound effect on me. I was a very competent Expert but the part of the week I looked forward to most was supporting children attending the Field Trip. Seeing their eagerness to learn and helping them gain new skills whet my appetite to pursue teaching full time.

I attended a train to teach event at Hope University and listened to the presentations for a PGCE course and AMP SCITT which captured my attention. I met Alison Brady, Head of SCITT, and she was very passionate about the program and the support they could offer.

I joined the Software Engineering Programme (SEP) on Alison's advice and was assigned a professional mentor to coach me through the application process. The application was successful and I was invited to interview and found the process very efficient and professional. Within 24 hours I had been offered a conditional place on AMP SCITT to start in September. I had to pass my professional skills test in literacy and numeracy as well as complete an eight unit access course to supplement my subject knowledge.

I was invited to an induction at Deyes High School in Maghull. This reiterated my belief that I had made the right choice to become a teacher. I met the other successful candidates and it was clear that AMP SCITT had attracted a diverse set of high quality trainees from a variety of disciplines.

As I had met current teaching practitioners in the Computer Science and ICT department during my SEP, I felt confident walking into the classroom on the first day, knowing that familiar people would guide and advise me. During these initial weeks I made every effort to demonstrate how keen I was to be a contributing member of the faculty, I volunteered to run a station at the school open evening for future pupils. I created a display, set up a race track for a Sphero™ robot and had a Minecraft game running on a Raspberry Pi, designed to generate a buzz and excitement for the visitors in school. It was very well received.

I was aware of the BBC MicroBit program for schools and got permission to apply for units on behalf of the department. We received 150 free units to help develop KS3 pupils understanding of computer hardware and software and how to programme them.

Being school centred presents opportunities to fulfil wider professional responsibilities as well as being in the classroom. Within the first weeks of the course, I had attended a Duke of Edinburgh activity weekend with a year 11 group. It was such a rewarding experience, one that allowed me to see how eclectic the pupils are and how their personalities and abilities can be so crucial when planning lessons.

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