An Irish NQT in Kent


‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’. This little line of wisdom was spoken by Eleanor Roosevelt and has stayed with me throughout my university career in which I trained to be a teacher. Living in Northern Ireland, I was acutely aware of the few job opportunities there was for NQT’s. However my drive and passion to teach forced me to ignore the critics and complete my initial teacher training. My time in university was indeed four of the most memorable years of my life during which I grew both as a teacher and as a person.

At the beginning of my final year the pressure to attain and succeed was very real. The time had come when I had to start planning the next step. This was a challenge. At 18 I had achieved my place in college and knew the plan of action for the following years ahead. Fast forward 4 years and things were not as easy. Being faced with the uncertainty of the real world and the demands that came with it, I was anxious.

In March 2013, I applied for a job in Tunbridge Wells. A few days later I received a friendly voicemail inviting me for interview. The night prior to the interview I read over some of the school’s key information and after arriving at school was kitted out with visitor badges and welcomes.   After I delivered my lesson and had the interview, I was invited to stay for lunch and get to know the school a little more.

On my way back to the airport I received a phone call from the school offering me the job as Teacher of RE and in addition to this some time to think over the offer, the challenges and opportunities that came with it. The following morning I rang the school with confirmation of my decision to take the job. I remember telling my family and friends of my decision, although it hadn’t set in that I had a position waiting for me in July.

As the final days at university passed and results were posted, the reality of the change that was about to happen was ever present. Packing my ‘teacher clothes’ into one suitcase and my ‘normal clothes’ into another, I couldn’t help but feel scared knowing I was leaving the security and love of home. Finding a place to live was somewhat of a challenge, but I managed to find the house share that I have now, a 9 minute walk from the school.

I was apprehensive about attending my first day of school as a teacher. I was 1 of 12 new teachers, many of those NQT’s too. Since then I have been taken under the guidance of the Head of RE along with his fantastic staff whose kindness and willingness to answer my endless questions and requests have been second to none.

I am very aware of the challenges that lie ahead of me as an NQT and the stresses that I will inevitably endure. However I am confident that I will be able to overcome these challenges with the support, guidance and leadership of my new colleagues which extend far beyond my own department. Being away from home has so far proved manageable, but I am blessed with a wonderfully supportive family and network of friends. My Kent experience to date has been the setting upon which I will, as Henry David Thoreau once said, ‘go confidently in the direction of my dreams’. 


Áine Lyons is an NQT from Ireland
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