As a career changer, how do you plan to bring your previous work experience into the classroom?
After nearly 30 years working in accountancy, tax, regulation and risk management, it would be crazy not to try to bring some of the knowledge and skills that I have learned to the classroom. I hope to share my experiences in different ways.
For example, I always find it interesting, when in conversation with those outside of the accounting profession, that the assumption is that accountants must be good at maths. For me, having worked as an accountant for many years, it seems far more important to have an aptitude to recognise patterns and solve problems. Obviously, it is important to feel comfortable working with numbers, but a computer is likely to be handling most of the computational requirements of any role in accountancy in the 21st Century. I am hoping that my input to students at my placement school will extend beyond the maths classroom and into careers discussions, where students feel able to ask me “real life” questions about my career to date… the pros and cons… and why you don’t need to be an expert in trigonometry to be a good accountant!
In terms of using the financial knowledge that I have gained over the years, it feels like there is a real “gap” in the confidence that many teachers have in covering topics which would help students make more informed financial decisions as they mature into young adults and start managing personal budgets, applying for mortgages and understanding basic concepts surrounding investments and pensions. Having volunteered as a debt adviser with a local church some years ago, it seems to me that a lack of understanding is often at the heart of challenges with debt and broader financial problems.
I am fortunate to be training in a school where most students are capable of achieving top grades at GCSE maths and which focuses attention on the application (rather than pure acquisition) of knowledge. This gives scope for covering a broader, context-driven, curriculum in classroom time. In future, once my training is over and I embark on teaching roles at other schools which may not have this flexibility, I will seek to introduce financial literacy through PSHCE time, clubs and activities. I used to be a member of the education committee for the Chartered Institute of Taxation and am aware of materials produced by the Institute and by the Bank of England aimed at school aged children. It would be fantastic to be able to deliver these in a way that would genuinely help the next generation make fewer financial mistakes than their parents and grandparents.
By Kim Harmer
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