This article (and the accompanying image) were originally published by the TES.

By Luke Homer

When Sian Llewellyn was a sixth former at my school, she’d already made her mind up: she wanted to teach.

Our passionate teachers had ignited ambition inside of Sian. Those teachers who had made sure she reached her full potential had made her want to go on and do the same for others. It wasn’t just that she wanted to give back to the education system; she felt certain that she wanted to return to the corridors where she had been a student herself.

Sian became Miss Llewellyn, and has now been with us for four years, now working as an English and psychology teacher and deputy SENDCO.

Her teaching success story is not a one-off for our school. The academy’s CEOs Steve and Paula Kenning believe sixth-form students make ideal teacher-training candidates. 

Recruiting from your student body might sound like a far-fetched strategy to adopt, but I believe bringing back past students to take up teaching posts has extra benefits.

Why? Because those students who return have an extra advantage: they have high expectations and they can engage with the young people from our wider community.

If you want to try to adopt this approach in your own school, we found that these steps were key to our success:

1. Create internships for nurturing talent

For university leavers, we have put together an internship programme. This involves coming back to the school for the summer term, once the academic year at university comes to an end in June, and working as an assistant.

Interns are thrown into school life and assist in the running of our summer camp. Upon graduating, these interns can then take on the role of cover supervisor – excellent preparation for life at the front of the classroom.

2. Build a curriculum that nurtures future teachers

Applied Transdisciplinary Learning (ATL) is a project-based programme that aims to encourage students to develop the skills that successful teachers have.

Year 12 students work in groups to plan, evaluate and deliver, helping to develop the skills they would need for future teaching careers. 

3. Focus on careers

All sixth-form students spend 20% of their curriculum time working with real-life employers from a number of different sectors on real-life projects.

Despite the negative stories you might read, teachers do generally enjoy the teaching part of their jobs, and this is a great time to talk to your students about the benefits of teaching.

We ensure students have opportunities to work with teachers on projects that are about becoming a teacher. This exposes young people to what this profession, and others, are really like and allows them to make far better-informed choices about their career path.

Luke Homer is vice principal at Rivers Academy in Feltham. He oversees teaching and learning and the curriculum, including the sixth form, careers and post-16 ATL development at the school, which is part of the Aspirations Academies Trust