From education to employment

London career changer finally makes the grade

Sasha Chaudhri

Four decades after leaving school at 16, with no qualifications, a woman has finally passed her GCSEs – just weeks before stating training to become a teacher.

This morning Sasha Chaudhri, 57, achieved an 8 (Distinction) in English and 4 in Maths.

Despite failing her then OLevels in 1981, she later gained a law degree and Masters before working for 25 years at top city firms such as Visa, Santander, EY and the Financial Ombudsman.

Sasha, from Merton, South London, begins her teacher training for English at Kingston University this September. The charity, Now Teach, co-founded by FT journalist Lucy Kellaway, helped her switch professions. They have supported nearly 1,000 career changers to bring their skills and knowledge to the classroom.

More than 9 in 10 schools in England are experiencing difficulties in recruiting teachers, according to the Association of School and College Leaders. Older teachers, like Sasha, represent a large untapped pool of talent that can help education leaders tackle shortages and deepen students learning experience.

Sasha says:

“After a challenging time, I left school at 16 after failing all my exams. Despite this, my passion for English spurred me on to successfully achieve a first in Law at University at the age of 32, followed by a very rewarding career in the corporate world. Despite over 20 years of working for the big names such as Grant Thornton and Royal London, I started feeling unfulfilled. Having attained a high level in my career, I did some soul searching and reached the decision to follow a new career path in teaching English. I want to inspire students, and to help them to obtain a good foundation of the English language to enable them to pursue their dreams.

To prepare me for this career in teaching, I decided to retake my GCSEs in English and Maths, which has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Retaking them provided me with the invaluable experience of fostering an up to date understanding of the syllabus and the opportunity to observe some inspiring teaching methods as a student. On a personal level I have learned patience and will be immensely proud to be part of a profession that develops our children of today for the future requirements of tomorrow and beyond.

I would say to students that did not achieve the grade they wanted, that some of the most brilliant minds have failed at many things, and the fact that they keep preserving eventually makes them stronger. It is that journey that provides you with the opportunity to learn to conquer life’s obstacles”.

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