My career story: Sandra Rennie

The first member of our new, regular 'meet a member' feature, MSET-QTLS member Sandra Rennie tells us a little bit about herself.

Where do you work?

Sandra Rennie

SEQUALS, an independent training provider specialising in teacher training, assessment and quality assurance in education.

How long have you been working in this sector?

I have been working in Further Education Colleges for over 30 years and for the last 10 of these years I have been teaching with SEQUALS.

What does being a member of SET mean to you?

It brings me opportunities to network and collaborate with professional colleagues in many different types of organisations and different teaching contexts. I see the enthusiasm for professional development and that keeps my morale high and encourages me to carry on working to develop my skills and knowledge. I get regular newsletters and access to online courses. I also enjoy reading Intuition and sharing ideas from there with my students. To sum up, it makes me feel part of a special profession.

Why did you choose teaching/training as a career and how did you get into it?

I started off with a professional qualification in Social Work and acquired a couple of years of experience working with homeless people under my belt. I was keen to make a difference in peoples’ lives. However early on into my working life I realised that the ‘caring’ professions were not for me as they seemed to be about managing people’s difficult situations and being a paid to care when others can’t or won’t do so. I was helping people suffering social disadvantage to adapt to what they can’t change. This all felt too negative. I needed a more positive career that was about enabling people to take charge of their own lives, to make their own decisions and creatively challenge the obstacles they faced. It also felt important to be at the forefront of change, to research, explore and develop new ideas. My first teaching job was teaching ‘Life and Social Skills’ to a mixed and challenging group of hairdressers and construction workers. I loved it and knew I had found my vocation. I have found that from then on I continued to learn and improve my teaching skills and loved that experience of constant change and growth.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My last achievement. The joy of working in a learning profession is that every achievement leads on to another achievement and that is often a greater or deeper achievement. In the 1980s I was proud of working in a wonderful team of teachers developing a course for new arrivals to the UK called ‘Access to Bilingual Employment’, in the 1990s I was proud of how I dealt with the challenging task of being the FE Teaching and Learning Development co-ordinator at Bradford College, in 2000 I was proud of my education research projects into teaching practice at Huddersfield University and today I am currently very proud of the blended learning version of the Award in Education and Training course I have developed for SEQUALS. 

What has most surprised you about your career?

I have been constantly surprised at how wonderfully effective team working is at growing and nurturing new teachers. Conversely I have been surprised at seeing how debilitating and isolating a toxic educational organisation can be for committed and experienced teachers. I am surprised we don’t see that this can lead to wasted talent and stunted learning opportunities. I have seen a lot of change in education - standards of pedagogy and teacher training have risen steadily over the years, however there are teachers who get left behind. As a profession what affects one of us affects us all.

What is your favourite food?

I love food that is colourful, crunchy and surprises your taste buds!

Who is your favourite author?

It varies with whichever book I’m reading at the time. At the moment I am engrossed in Jane Eyre and I love Charlotte Bronte.

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