We caught up with gas MLP trainee, Michelle, who is swapping a career in the classroom, where she specialised in working with students with special educational needs, to life on the tools.
Michelle initially trained as a P.E. teacher. Although she loved it, twelve years into her career she decided to make a change and work with autistic students in an area special school. She enjoyed working with the students and their parents, building relationships and offering support. Many had had negative experiences in mainstream schools and were very anxious about education.
During the lockdowns and periods of home-schooling, Michelle set up lessons on Teams so that she could continue working with the families. Developing a rapport and trust with the students through the computer. Once they returned to school, relationships had improved to such an extent that her group of eight students were able to work together in the same classroom. Something, which had been an impossibility before.
Although Michelle’s achievement made a significant difference to the lives of her students, it took its toll on her own mental health and wellness:
“I was constantly worrying about them. At the weekends and at holiday times, they were always on my mind. I loved teaching the students, but the workload was enormous. I’d spend every evening writing up reports and working on lesson plans, which jeopardized the time I spent with my own children. It got to the point where I knew something had to change.”
“My brother-in-law, Daniel, is a gas engineer and has his own company. They’re mainly blokes, but he employs one female engineer and she’s always in high demand. He used to joke about me joining the company and one day we had a proper conversation about it. With him able to offer me an assured job at the end of my training, everything began to fall into place. I wanted and needed to make a new start and it began to feel like a real possibility.”
Michelle signed up to Logic4training’s Domestic Gas Heating Installer Managed Learning Programme for new entrants who have little of no previous experience of working in the gas industry.
“I’m four weeks into my training with Logic4training in Northolt. It’s a fair drive to get there every day, but it’s really worth it. They’re amazing. Such professionals - the trainers, who’ve all come from proper working backgrounds, are fantastic with real on the job experience to share with us.”
“Soon I’ll be transferring to Logic4training’s Luton site, which is closer to home, and we’ll be starting on the practical learning. After that I’ll be working with my brother-in-law at LCA Maintenance Services, to concentrate on the portfolio part of the course; to make sure I get the experience I need to complete my qualification.
“It’s been great being back in the classroom. For me I never really left – professional development is something that teachers do as part of the job, but we’re a really mixed group in Northolt – a mix of backgrounds and ages.
“Matt, our trainer works really hard to make sure everyone keeps up – offering extension work for those who are more able and extra support for those who find certain areas challenging. He encourages us to use our initiative and to work independently if we’ve the confidence to do so. I love the problem solving.
“It’s been a big commitment taking this on. I’ve taken on a part-time job at the weekends to help us get through financially, but already I feel I’m benefitting from having time with my family in the evenings. When I was a teacher we’d eat, spend a small amount of time playing before it was the children’s bedtime. I would then be working on my laptop from nine ‘til midnight doing schoolwork. It was exhausting and I used to get this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. That’s completely gone now and we get to have real family time.
“I’ve even started to teach my seven-year-old daughter how to use a sewing machine! It’s great, I can really switch-off and feel so much happier – excited about the future.
“My long-term dream is to have my own company and I would like to work with schools, to help and inspire students who struggle with conventional learning, to thrive. I’d like to be involved in careers festivals and provide work experience opportunities - even taking on apprentices from different backgrounds, to show them that sitting behind a desk isn’t the only way to learn.”
“My daughter struggles at school with dyslexia, and my son is autistic. These challenges dramatically affect their self-confidence, which, as a parent, is heartbreaking to see. I’d love to be able to show them and others who have social, emotional and behavioral challenges that there are different ways of learning. Vocational learning is really valuable and I think we forget that.
“My own life at school wasn’t easy. I found education challenging and had to work extremely hard to get my qualifications. I’d like to go into schools and share my experience with others. Not just schools, I’d like to encourage everyone to have the confidence to make changes - it’s never too late to give something else a go. When it comes down to it, my own wellbeing and that of my family is the most important thing.”
For now, Michelle is really enjoying taking the first steps in her new own career and we wish her the very best of luck. For more information about Logic4training’s new entrants training package for Domestic Heating Engineers, please click here