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Resettlement success

Forces: Ex-RAF

Sharon: From RAF Service Technician to Local Authority School Teaching Assistant

"It is naturally going to be a difficult move to lose the security of being in the Service, both emotionally and financially, but there are alternative rewards."

Sharon served as a Chief Technician with the RAF for 22 years before her discharge in May 2012. She found her current job, where for the past 12 months she has been a one-to-one special educational needs teaching assistant, on her local council’s website on the recommendation of a friend.

Sharon found that the training and experience she had previously gained in the military has been useful in her new role, especially as she speaks five languages. Her knowledge of languages, communication, listening and understanding skills has been most beneficial to her in civilian life. The school she works for has a multi-national alumni and a variety of languages are spoken; being multi-lingual has helped her communicate with the children she assists. Sharon emphasises that being able to listen and understand the pupils from the wide age ranges and backgrounds is vitally important in giving them the right support.

Experience gained during her time in Service has also been useful for team building; not only with the pupils but with her colleagues also, as the help and support that is exchanged between Sharon and those she works with is invaluable.

Before Sharon left the Service, she used her Graduated Resettlement Time to undetake vocational training to support her civilian career choice. Knowing what she wanted to do after leaving the service and the assistance given with teaching courses enhanced Sharon’s opportunities. Undertaking training such as trauma risk management and completing voluntary trial attachments all helped to bolster Sharon’s CV and gave her the confidence to excel at the interview stage.

Sharon’s job covers a number of key teaching areas including Literacy, Maths and PE and she is currently assisting Year 6 pupils with preparations for their exams. She also works with intervention groups, other smaller groups and works closely on a one-to-one basis with a young pupil who has autism.

Sharon is very enthusiastic and loves her new job as each day is different; she finds the growing development of the pupils very rewarding and cites a recent school trip as a fabulous day out for all involved. She also says that the flexibility offered from working in a school environment has helped with childcare issues as well as the long summer holiday to look forward to!

Sharon has made the most of the opportunity the environment offers for learning and personal development, and has already taken part in a number of training courses.

Sharon’s communication and team working skills have transferred well into her new job and she says they have helped her integrate into the school and have confidence when speaking with members of the senior management team or in the classroom. Sharon particularly loves the banter between her and other colleagues.

Sharon's current role is very different to her previous one as she does not have the same level of managerial responsibility she has been accustomed to and so the best way to overcome such an obstacle, for Sharon, has been to acknowledge that she is starting over, starting from the bottom whilst knowing there is potential to progress.

The financial adjustment has also been challenging for Sharon; unlike teachers, teaching assistants are employed on different terms & conditions which usually means that they are paid during term time only and not during school closure periods.

Sharon advises other Service leavers not to be afraid of the decision: "it is naturally going to be a difficult move to lose the security of being in the Service, both emotionally and financially, but there are alternative rewards." For Sharon it is a better quality of life for both her and her daughter. Being deployed for several weeks or months at a time was difficult as a young mother, but taking the leap of faith into the unknown of civilian life and into the public sector has been tremendously beneficial to Sharon and both her and her daughter are reaping the benefits of a happier family life.

Sharon very much hopes to continue working within the school environment and to build on her skills base by focussing on the welfare element of teaching, in particular early intervention work.
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