Case Studies

An insider’s view of Harris School Direct teacher training

It is both intensive and supportive – trainee teacher Lauren Hawkins discusses her experience of Harris School Direct.

Trainee teacher Lauren Hawkins joined the Harris School Direct cohort in 2015. Here she shares an insider view of training to teach English.


What inspired you to train to teach?

I’m not sure I could say it was as simple as a moment of inspiration. I think there was something very natural and inevitable about my journey towards teaching. I guess I have always been a bit of a teacher – I love to learn and share pieces of information, and have always been totally in love with my subject.

I kind of fell into it to be honest – I was approached by the parent of a university friend to privately tutor her younger brother for his Spanish exams and it took off, ever so gradually, from there.

What has been the most memorable moment so far?

I think teaching is made up of memorable moments. They are like stepping stones that help us cross the troublesome patches. I have been very blessed with the students I teach – some days all it takes is a word or a smile from a student to give you that warm feeling and remind you that you’re doing the right thing.

One recent stand-out moment would have to be when a girl I do intervention sessions with approached me in the corridor with a box of chocolates and a very touching Christmas card. I think sometimes you have no idea of the impact you are having.

How would you describe teaching your subject?

It’s like play for me. I am so in love with reading and language – it’s brilliant that I get to talk about it as my job. That said, I do think English is a very difficult subject to teach as it encompasses so much. One minute you can be exploring various ways to perform a Shakespeare monologue and examining character presentation, the next you can be analysing rhetorical devices in a newspaper article. I guess that’s one of the reasons I love it; the variety and breadth of the subject is really exciting and there are many dynamic ways to teach it. It can be challenging though, with some of the thematic content that can arise during the study of a literary text. But then that is what is so great; it provides a neutral space to discuss potentially quite controversial and provocative topics.

What advice would you give to others considering School Direct?

Do it. As simple as that. If you even have an inkling you want to teach, go for it. We are in such dire need of good quality teachers in this country and if I can encourage people to take that leap then I will be very happy. I am constantly trying to get some of the wonderful people I know to make a career change. I don’t know about other routes into teaching, but School Direct is such a logical way in; you learn on the job in an environment that is at once intensive and supportive.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I would like to complete further studies at some point, maybe getting into educational theory, which I find fascinating after researching elements of it for a recent assignment. I can see myself moving into policy making, but that is all a long way off. I would maybe like to become a lead practitioner or even head of department along the way. For now I am happy teaching.


For more information about train to teach with Harris School Direct, visit

If you are interested in joining the Harris Federation, please contact our Central Recruitment Team to discuss opportunities and career pathways. or call 020 8253 7777

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