At our Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) reaccreditation day, we spoke to two of our ATS awardees, Mike Dixon and David Brook, about where the programme had taken them and their careers, and how it had spurred on their professional development.
Working with prisoners has provided Mike Dixon with a rich arena in which to apply his research for ATS. His research topic: Does contextualised learning in a custodial setting have the potential for reducing recidivism amongst adult sex offenders engaged in business skills study.
“It was gruelling,” Mike acknowledges. “It was very hard work. It made me re-evaluate my pedagogy, how I worked.
“And I think it also refocused my reflective capacity as a teacher.”
Achieving his ATS and Chartered Teacher Status has “definitely created more career options for me going forward”, Mike says, “with an impending government contract review of my work establishment, the achievement…has significantly helped secure my future role as a teacher beyond my current workplace”.
Career-wise, he says, “the thought of taking a more senior position either within the prison service or in Further Education does not appeal, as it would…take me out of the classroom, which in my opinion would be a waste of my skills”.
In his current role, his status as quality lead for the education department “has gained significantly both amongst colleagues and awarding bodies visiting the establishment for EQA and quality audit purposes. Whilst my status has evolved in this context, I have also developed confidence in working with external and regulatory agencies”, he says.
As he worked toward the achievement, Mike “thoroughly enjoyed” the research element of working toward the ATS and the Chartered Teacher Status, which held significant challenges and no easy answers. “One of the things we had to do was come up with a literature review, and there is so little written about education in a prison setting, and there’s been so little research done by prison educators,” he said.
The lack of content available in his area of expertise and research proved to be an advantage for Mike, especially when aligned with the autonomy offered to candidates. “Any word of warning I’d give to somebody who’s wanting to go on to do ATS is, don’t expect the answers,” he said. “You’re just going to need to put it all together in the most practical way.”
“And in many ways, I think that’s what SET and the Chartered College of Teaching are looking for, that kind of ‘get up and go’.”
His desire for learning put David Brook on the road toward earning ATS.
However, achieving the qualification opened his world – and his career – further than he might have ever imagined.
“It enabled me to set a benchmark for our sector as the first and currently only person within the Private Security Industry to achieve this status,” David said.
And one thing led to another and another. “This led to be being selected as the Co-Chair for the Security Institutes Special Interest Group for Security, Education, Accreditation, Training and Standards,” he said, where his aim is to act as a thought influencer and drive education and professional development within the sector.”
His next step was completing an MA in Education, Extremism and Cohesion, passing with distinction.
“In hindsight I would suggest that the ATS and Chartered Teacher pathway led to a corridor full of open doors which highlights the benefits associated with the ethos of lifelong learning,” David said.
But he’s not stopping there. He wants the wider world to benefit from his learning as well. In his current role at SecuriGroup, David said, “I would like to establish our Academy as a Centre of Excellence for Safety, Security and Service education and use this to influence a generation of security professionals to embrace professional development.”
However, he believes he has even more to accomplish. “I would like to create a specialist niche within my sector and give something back to society,” he said. “During my previous career (policing) and studies (BA Hons in Education) I developed a strong, active, and dynamic theme which led to the development of a nationally recognised social inclusion programme.
“I would like to develop this theme and specialise in the field of safety and security education, perhaps leading to consultancy.”
Yet his two goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive, he pointed out.
“It is possible,” he said, “that these could plans could sit hand in hand as our core purpose is ‘strengthening of society’.
“Then,” he said, “time and cost permitting, I would like to consider a PHD or Doctorate.”
Lifelong learning is clearly what ATS candidates like David Brook are all about.