Sunderland teacher recruitment company Premier Teachers leads project to transition veterans from the battlefield to the classroom

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Sunderland based education recruitment company Premier Teachers is leading an initiative to help transition ex-military personnel from the battlefield to the classroom.

The supply teaching organisation, which provides teachers and support staff to schools, colleges and academies across the North East, is working with the Career Transition Partnership to pilot a new 12-week internship designed to support personnel leaving the Armed Forces to make a successful transition into employment as teaching assistants.

Former teacher and founder of Premier Teachers, Mike Donnelly, is pioneering the fast-track course which starts this month (April).

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Veterans enrolling on the course will have the opportunity to benefit from paid work-based learning in local schools, with a view to gaining permanent employment.

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Mike said: “I was speaking to one of my good friends who has just come out of the army and he told me about the careers support available to ex-service personnel. A lot of people coming out of the forces don’t have any qualifications that enable them to go into other sectors and they often get pigeonholed, working in the likes of security roles.

“At Premier Teachers, we have a huge demand for candidates for support staff and teaching assistants in schools. We’ve a proven training route for teaching assistant internships, which has been a massive success across the whole North East.

"Moving to a partnership with ex-forces personnel, who are resilient and disciplined, seemed a logical step and we’re delighted to be chosen as the North East and Cumbrian partner with the Career Transition Partnership to raise awareness of education careers and training.

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Mike Donnelly, Managing Director of Premier Teachers and Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council.Mike Donnelly, Managing Director of Premier Teachers and Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council.
Mike Donnelly, Managing Director of Premier Teachers and Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council.

“We’re also in talks with teacher training organisations to develop a progression route from teaching assistant to teachers.”

Premier Teachers is hosting a virtual group event called ‘Get into Education – Pathways into the Education Sector’ on Wednesday, April 27, to raise awareness of the course, as well as providing information to candidates on how they can progress to higher level teaching assistant (HLTA), cover supervisor and teaching roles.

Mike added: “We already have a number of schools in the region interested in the project and as an experienced teacher myself, I know what’s required and expected. The beauty of it is the work-based learning is paid and there are real jobs on offer. We want to get candidates into schools as soon as possible.”

It’s hoped the internship will boost employment and support the veteran community in the region, as well as allow schools and students to benefit from the skills and insight a military career provides.

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The initiative has also been backed by Sunderland City Council.

Chief executive Patrick Melia said: “We’re proud to support Premier Teachers and its fantastic initiative to help veterans realise their potential. After making a huge contribution to society, veterans deserve our full support in transitioning to a new career.”

Mike added: “I think Sunderland City Council have been outstanding right throughout the pandemic. They were there to support us when the schools shut and were superb helping us access financial assistance for our recruitment app we launched in 2020.

“We shared our plans for the project and they immediately saw the value.”

To register for the ‘Get into Education – Pathways into the Education Sector’ event, or to find out more information about the fast-track course, go to the Premier Teachers website.

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