Cabbies doing the knowledge

Taxi Drivers (left to right) Dean Robinson, Martin Brown and Tom Brooks who are all at Sunderland University, training to become teachers.
Taxi Drivers (left to right) Dean Robinson, Martin Brown and Tom Brooks who are all at Sunderland University, training to become teachers.
Have your say

A TRIO of city cabbies are swapping life behind the wheel for careers in the classroom.

It’s been almost 20 years since Dean Robinson, Tom Brooks and Martin Brown last sat an exam.

But that wasn’t going to stop these three putting the brakes on for a complete change of direction.

All three have signed up to a teacher training course at the University of Sunderland.

After leaving school with their GCSEs, they went straight into full-time employment, holding down a variety of jobs. However, their desire to teach was never far from their minds.

It was only when Dean, 34, completed an Access to Higher Education course at City of Sunderland College – a preparation programme for academic study at university – that his work colleagues were motivated to do the same.

Now the pals, from Sunderland, are juggling their taxi driving duties around their studies.

Dean, who is in the second year of his English education degree, said: “It is hard work but worth the effort. We all know the goal at the end of this course.

“I’ve always loved anything to do with literature and liked the idea of teaching, so this course is ideal and it’s going really well.”

All three believe the trials and tribulations of life on the road as a taxi driver has more than prepared them for the challenges of teaching teenagers.

Tom, 39, who joined the Army straight from school and is in the first year of studying ICT education with Qualified Teacher Status, said: “I think taxi driving is the foundation for teaching kids. There’s not much a kid can say to rattle you once you’ve worked a nightshift on the taxis.”

Martin, 38, held down jobs as a roofer and also at Nissan before hitting the road as a taxi driver.

He said: “I’m actually the first person in my family to go to university, so studying the English education degree is a huge opportunity for me.”

Helen Clyde, senior lecturer in English education, said: “Martin and Dean are both committed to English and to becoming English teachers and this undergraduate programme with Qualified Teacher Status gives them the opportunity to qualify in three years, rather than following the usual route of degree then postgraduate course. 

“They bring life experience and an incredible work ethic which inspires the younger students on the course. I enjoy working with them both as they are passionate about ideas and reading.

“They will both make incredible English teachers and will be excellent role models for teenagers from non-academic backgrounds.”

Lynne Dagg, senior lecturer in ICT education, added: “Tom came to the university in September and immediately fitted into the group. He knows that the way to succeed academically is through hard work and determination and these are assets he uses very well.”