We spoke to Connie McKinney about her journey with United Teaching, through United Learning and then back to United Teaching once again. When you train to teach with us the opportunities for development are there as we have a network of over 80 schools and 3 training hubs.
Connie: “I have long held the dream of becoming a primary school teacher, having been inspired by my father who has been a secondary school teacher at Paddington Academy for many years. I love languages and I wanted to give myself four years of studying French and Italian before moving into teaching. In the summer before graduating from University of Birmingham, I came to work at Wilberforce Primary Academy for a few weeks to get some initial experience. I learnt about United Teaching from my Dad, I knew they had a teacher training scheme and I liked the idea of studying for my PGCE whilst working as a teacher. I had so enjoyed my initial teaching experience that I applied to United Teaching in 2015 and was fortunate enough to return to Wilberforce in September of that year.
Now I feel like I’ve come 360°. I have followed Wilberforce through its own journey, and I too have gone through a personal journey with United Learning, as I now work for United Teaching! I did my NQT year at Wilberforce and then progressed to KS1 Lead. Two years ago, I moved to Year 6, and I am now KS2 Lead.”
What has helped you to get to where you are now?
Connie: “With my work as a key stage leader, I had oversight of other teachers in my Key Stage. That’s when I realised how much I enjoyed supporting teachers. Not just novice teachers – but my peers too. Providing support appeals to me hugely, as I’m very much a people person and enjoy building relationships. If you had asked me at the beginning of my career if I’d like to work with teachers, I wouldn’t have thought I’d enjoy it as much as I do. I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting my family of KS2 teachers. As a teacher, you love seeing the progress of a child, but I have enjoyed seeing the development of a trainee teacher just as much. I think my own experience of being a mentee made me appreciate my role in supporting that development for others and led me to take up the role of a mentor.
Which specific CPD opportunities have you benefitted from?
Connie: “I received mentor training at Paddington Academy, and training on the use of the instructional coaching model with United Teaching which have helped immensely. I also received online training to support with my role as a Visiting Fellow through Ambition School Leadership. This training has helped me progress and apply my knowledge and skills.
I have achieved my NPQML (the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership), which is a DfE qualification that I accessed through United Learning. I am now studying the NPQ for Leading Teacher Development as my Head knows this is the route I want to follow. This training will take one year, and I have already had a full day of training at Paddington from Ambition. Every two weeks I complete a module – it’s research-led, which means there is a lot of reading and entails collaboration with a buddy from outside of United Learning. We have clinics and communities with groups of other teachers who are studying this same qualification.”
What do you enjoy most about working as part of United Learning?
Connie: “I think I’m an advocate for United Learning as I have fully immersed myself in the Group – teaching at a United Learning school and now working for United Teaching, both of which I enjoy immensely. I have been able to observe and influence the development of the United Teaching programme as it has expanded and refined its primary focus over time. I realised a few years ago that working with teachers and mentoring was something I really enjoyed, and I have been able to do precisely that - my career is going exactly as I want it to!”
If you are inspired by Connie’s journey, then talk to us today. The first step is to apply for your ITT year which can do here. After that, the sky is the limit when it comes to developing yourself within the United Learning group.