Award-winning Teacher Apprentice shares her programme experience and charity work
Meet Natasha Paling, a graduate of the University of Brighton’s Teacher Apprenticeship, who is not only an award-winning teacher but also dedicates her spare time to charity work and local community causes. We caught up with her to find out more about her amazing work and hear about her experiences on the teacher apprenticeship programme:
“My charity work started by volunteering for Sussex Homeless Support, where I’m pleased to say that I was awarded a grant from the Aviva Community Fund to pay for a women’s only shelter bus.
“During the first lockdown, back in 2020, my teaching hours were dramatically reduced due to the amount of children in school. I felt that I needed to do something to help the number of people on furlough and low incomes, and as a result, I set up a foodbank that really took off. Initially, it was started for families at the school, but as the word spread across social media, we started to carry out deliveries across a 7 mile radius!
“Since then, I have also been awarded a second grant of £5,000 for an outdoor classroom for the early years foundation stage at Balfour Primary school where I teach.”
In addition to her charity work, since graduating, Natasha has also been awarded a certificate of excellence in the category of ‘Outstanding New Teacher of the Year 2022’, as part of the Pearson National Teaching Awards. She was nominated by Sandra Mulholland, her Deputy Head at Balfour Primary School, who shared:
“We wanted to nominate Natasha to show how incredibly proud of her we are and how lucky we are to have her as part of our amazing team at Balfour Primary. She is an inspiration to us all and in a very short time made such a difference to the children and families of Balfour Primary School.
“Natasha has developed positive and trusting relationships, and in particular, has worked endlessly to build trust and provide support for those who are most disadvantaged – developing schemes such as ‘coats for kids’. Her energy and passion within her teaching role is astonishing and has to be seen to be believed.”
Natasha started as a Teaching Assistant at Balfour Primary School before deciding to train to be a teacher. She shared with us her reasons for choosing the teacher apprenticeship route and some of her experiences of being on the programme:
“I chose the apprenticeship route as I was employed by a school and, as a mum to two children, I didn’t want to lose my income. Luckily, the school were encouraging and wanted to support my development. That way, I could learn ‘on the job’ whilst retaining a salary.
“I felt I could make a difference as a teacher but I thought the stumbling block would be that I left school at 16 with a few GCSEs and no A-levels. I started my first degree at the age of 41 and now thanks to the apprenticeship route, I was able to train to be a teacher at 45!
“I am now a qualified teacher, which I love, and I have a real passion to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children – and this has been echoed in my charity work. I’ve also supported families applying for benefits which has made a difference in their everyday lives. The big advantage of me doing the apprenticeship route was that I had an immediate job and it allowed me to pick areas of interest to research further. My employer had seen me progress and wanted to keep me as they had ‘trained me’.
“I would advise anyone considering the apprenticeship route to go for it! In my experience, there is no better way to learn than when immersed in the experience and being completely hands on, whilst still having the university input.
“The benefits to an employer are that they are able to mould and develop the employee to their way and is less cost to them as opposed to a qualified teacher.
“The best thing about teaching is the children! They are amazing individuals who you have the chance to watch blossom, grow and thrive – my class last year were like a little family to me! Lightbulb moments for children are a privilege to be part of and no day is ever the same.
“Teaching is not an easy job, however, the best rewards come from the children and their families, and knowing that you’ve made a difference. Children can now read and write, have become resilient and can now sing on a stage in their Christmas play because of me!”
Find out more about the Teacher Apprenticeship at the University of Brighton 👇
This is not the first award success the Teacher Apprenticeship has celebrated – You may also remember that the course leader for the programme, Lis Bundock, was named ‘Tutor/Trainer of the Year’ at the Brighton and Hove Graduation Ceremony 2021 👇