From education to employment

Trio of BMet teaching professionals graduate with similar paths to success

Three BMet teachers’ recent graduations have further cemented their bond and interchangeable career roads to success in construction and engineering.

Affectionally referred to as “the three amigos”, lecturers Jim Haywood, Toni Oakley-Tulk and Garry Hearne have all just obtained their Certificate in Education at Wolverhampton University.

The learners, who have collectively completed the latest part of their education journey, similar experiences began much earlier than this though.

Not only did all the college lecturers grow up locally just a stone’s throw away from James Watt College in Great Barr, but they also all attended Great Barr School. In addition, they all later ventured into careers for large employers in the local area with Gary working at Dunlop, Jim at Lucas Electrical and Toni starting at Austin Rover.

Through their working lives each of them has also experienced career changes, whilst continuing their education. With Gary moving into production management from the line at Dunlop, Toni moving from Rover when it closed to become a gas fitter and Jim moving from service management into a sales career.

Gary was first to begin teaching at BMet followed by both Jim and Toni, just before Covid struck and lockdowns began to disrupt things. Gary taught engineering apprentices, whilst in construction, Toni taught gas whilst training level 1 and foundation students, while Jim had a mix of level 1 and level 2 students.

All three also started their CertEd course online in their respective living rooms.

Speaking of their rewarding experiences:

James said: “For me it’s been great to talk about the shared points in our lives. Our paths have twisted along through life and it’s been nice to find where they have crossed before and how our journeys have got us here.

“Moving forward, I suspect I’ll continue training at regular intervals. I’m always trying to get more experience and knowledge. I’ve already used my qualification to advance into management and this may well be a course I continue to follow. Who knows? With learning comes opportunity and choices!”

Toni said: “It’s great to find things in common with each other. It proves that people that did not necessarily follow an academic route into teaching can achieve great things and pass on all the knowledge gained from having a career in industry to others successfully. 

“We all remember our time at Great Barr Comp fondly, from the teachers, to some of the life lessons we learnt along the way. It helped us to support each other through a qualification that at times felt like it was aimed at teachers of purely academic subjects. We laughed and ranted together and that was key in helping us get through!”

Through the first year the ‘3 Amigos’ struck up a bond and worked together on supporting each other whilst in lockdown and then as they returned to college to teach. As the course went on, they started to become aware of the similar backgrounds and teaching journeys.

While not identical in every way, there was more than enough common ground to find the three in college on a Thursday (‘Uni day’) sitting around a table in the breakout area, sharing tails of the past and news about the present.

In September, all three joined together in the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton to walk on stage and receive their CertEd in Post Compulsory Education. A day that saw their families meet for the first time and they all got on as well as the three graduates!

The journey for these three ‘mature’ students continues. All of the BMet teachers have goals within their career in education and each is looking forward to continuing and improving the education they give and receive.

To find out more about the range of courses offered at BMet which include engineering, construction and teaching, please visit:

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