British Science Week: From STEM to the Classroom

British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). This year, the focus was on celebrating the diverse community in the STEM sector and how different experiences, skills and cultures can offer a fresh perspective in the industry. At Transition to Teach, we passionately believe that individuals with previous career experience, across all sectors and industries, have masses of talent that can be redirected into teaching, and the STEM sector is no exception.

Sheffield-based Paul Beagley is a career changer who worked as a synthetic chemist for over 20 years before transitioning into teaching. Switching careers from the lab to the classroom comes with challenges but Paul’s previous experience within the STEM sector has equipped him with many invaluable transferable skills.

“I have been involved in project, line and laboratory management, all of which have helped me to develop many transferable skills; I’m a good communicator, work well in a team and have the ability to work with people from a diverse group of disciplines. I also have a commitment to lifelong learning, as each new project I was involved in brought fresh challenges, meaning I was regularly learning new techniques and applications.”

Paul is now training to teach secondary chemistry with Mercia Learning Trust supported by Transition to Teach, who will offer him bespoke support and guidance throughout his training and first year as a newly qualified teacher. 

“I’m looking forward to engaging with my students, giving a few demonstrations including the reaction of sodium with water, meeting new people and learning new skills. I’ve been a chemist for 25 years but that doesn’t mean I’ll find the training easier than anyone else. I’m having to go back to basics and look at topics that I haven’t studied for decades, learning things again so that I can understand and teach them.

“My career as a chemist, like many of my colleagues, was sparked by a teacher. In my case my GCSE chemistry teacher Mr Curry, a mature ex‑industrial chemist in his first year of teaching. He kick-started my career when he asked me to do some extra experiments after school.”

Bradford-based Susanne Patel is another career changer who made the switch from STEM to the classroom, having previously worked in a number of roles in the chemical industry:

“My last role was as a chief technical officer for an analytical company specialising in understanding particulate systems. We worked with a range of companies, from water treatment to personal care and pharmaceutical companies to understand the physical properties of their materials.”

Susanne is now training to teach science with a chemistry specialism with Bradford Birth to 19 school-centred initial teacher training.

“Nothing can prepare you for standing in front of 30 students! Having a solid team surrounding you is amazing and gives you the confidence to carry on. Transition to Teach is part of that support network, along with your training provider and fellow students.”

Are you interested in training to teach? Transition to Teach is a government-funded programme offering free support and advice for those who are facing redundancy and may be interested in teaching. For more information, simply express your interest at