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From skydiver to schoolteacher...but which is the most daunting? We asked a teacher in training

12 February 2020

As far as career changes go, this one is pretty unusual.

Image of Blair Stent, skydiver turned schoolteacher

Blair Stent, 38, has spent the last few years as a skydiving instructor but now he's taking on a new challenge as a trainee teacher.

He's one of 11 new teacher trainees with Stockton's School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) retraining from different roles.

Stockton SCITT has recruited people from backgrounds as diverse as opticians, pub managers, business executives and skydivers!

We caught up with Blair to ask him why he's given up the skies for the schoolyard.

How long were you involved in skydiving?

"I started in 2001 while studying for my first degree in computing and it is something I've been doing ever since.

"A few years ago I became a Tandem Instructor working for Skydive GB. I've jumped at various locations across the UK and Europe - notching up 4,596 so far!"

What has inspired you to change careers and become a teacher?

"I've been interested in computers for as long as I can remember - right back to my parents buying me an Atari ST.

"A career in teaching computing gives me the chance to hopefully impart my passion onto new generations who will get just as much enjoyment out of it as I have.

"I've also been around skydiving long enough to know that I can't sustain such a physical lifestyle until I retire."

Which age range will you be teaching and which part of the job excites you most?

"I'll be teaching computing to secondary school students. When I was their age I started building PCs which I still do to this day, including several for family and friends.

"I also have a degree in TV & Film Production which ties in perfectly with the newer iMedia units in creative digital content - so I'm really looking forward to teaching that element."

How would you describe your experience of Stockton SCITT? Would you recommend it?

"Stockton SCITT in particular is good because you have people who've worked jobs in the real world come into teaching bringing their unique experience into the classroom.

"Often people overlook their own talents and just think of them as a skill they have rather than something they can impart to others - that's what teaching is.

"If people are thinking of training to be a teacher, I'd choose Stockton SCITT. You start with watching a teacher and how they work, then you take a few starter sessions before moving on to take full lessons.

"By the time you've delivered some starters, you'll feel quite comfortable taking an entire lesson - despite reservations beforehand!"

Finally, what is more daunting - jumping out of a plane or taking control of a class full of teenagers for the first time?

"Good question! Jumping out of a plane as a Tandem Instructor was way scarier because of all the things that can go wrong and trying to remember what to do in certain scenarios.

"That gave me a definite surge of adrenaline! Standing in front of a full class has a slightly different effect but nerves are always there whenever you do something for the first time."

Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "More and more we're seeing that people are being attracted into a teaching career from a whole host of backgrounds.

"Teachers play such an integral part in the lives of our children and it's great to see that our SCITT programme is proving to be a very popular and well-regarded route into the profession.

"Anyone interested in training to become a teacher, especially those with an interest in mathematics and science, should seriously consider Stockton SCITT as the way to begin their journey."

I'm interested. How can I apply?

Applications to start training from September 2019 are open now.

In order to apply for the September intake, applicants must have GCSE grade C (or equivalent or above) in Maths and English, plus GCSE Science at grade C (or equivalent or above) for those wishing to teach in primary schools.

All applicants should have an undergraduate degree classed at 2:2 or above, or intend to complete their degree this summer.

Skydiving picture credit: Skydive GB