United Teaching Blog

Yvonne Ellis

From Cars to the Classroom: Why I changed my career to teaching


Meet Yvonne Ellis – a former regional manager for a car rental company, she is now Assistant Principal at Kettering Buccleuch Academy with responsibility for teacher training, NQTs and CPD across the school. This is her story:


Prior to teaching, I worked in the car industry for companies such as Marshalls and Budget Car Rental. I was in this industry for approximately thirteen years and ultimately became a regional manager for Budget.

I had always had a very strong work ethic and had been fortunate enough to be recognised for this in my role with Budget. This provided me with a secure financial package with a luxury company car, but I no longer felt challenged and wanted to feel like I was making a difference. My own schooling had been disrupted by a move from central London to Cambridgeshire in my GCSE years, and a little rebellion resulted in me not achieving my academic potential. Thus, when the natural career gap created by my second pregnancy occurred, I grabbed the opportunity to get the education I should have achieved in my twenties.

Pull quote - I could not hold back tearsI decided to complete an Access to Higher Education course, which gave me enough credits to go to university at the age of 33. In all honesty, I don’t think I was mature enough to have completed a degree when I was younger. Getting my degree was wholly focused on becoming a teacher, as I had started to volunteer with my daughter’s class and just felt invigorated to be in such an environment of encouragement and challenge. I also became a governor at the college where I completed my Access course and immersed myself in every aspect of school life that I could. I won’t lie to you, there were times when I sobbed because I was working in a pub at night and childminding so that I could pay the food bill whilst studying for my degree.

My first application for teacher training was unsuccessful, and I cannot tell you the devastation that I felt, but I phoned them up and asked why they had not called me for interview. They gave me the tips I needed to make sure my second choice was successful. When I was invited for an interview, I shared my passion for teaching and for having the opportunity to change the futures of our younger generation. I could not hold back the tears when I was offered a place to train there and then.

During my NQT year I was asked to join the school’s Teaching and Learning panel, which gave me experience in observing lessons and working creatively across the school to share pedagogy and our passion for learning. This was a fabulous experience as I was privileged to work with the Deputy Principal.

I joined another school as a teacher in the April of my third of year teaching with the development role of becoming an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST). However, the Head of Department made an unexpected decision to leave without notice, and I was asked to step into the role. The senior leaders said they felt my experience in leadership in business gave them confidence that I could meet this challenge. I held this position for two years and improved the GCSE outcomes for English by over 25%. By that time, I wanted a new challenge and so started to seek a new role.

I had only been teaching for 5 years when I was employed as Director for English at Kettering Buccleuch Academy. I had only attended the interview for practice, but loved the atmosphere at KBA and the principal suggested that there would be advancement opportunities into a Teaching and Learning role.  He asked me to become part of his SLT in my second year at KBA, and this is my second year in post as an Assistant Principal. My role is really varied as I lead the teacher training/NQTs and whole-school CPD. I work directly with Dino (the principal) who has modelled excellent leadership to me, so that I am now considering applying for Vice- Principal posts in the future.  

Teaching is challenging – it’s tough, and can be intense. But none of that matters when you are stood in that classroom and have the joy of reading poetry with some of the most inquisitive people in the world. I love my job and feel incredibly grateful to all the wonderful teachers who have helped me along the way.

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