Allan Williamson: 'Volunteering led me to Teach First'

29 October 2015

Allan Williamson, Head of Student Learning Year 13 at London Academy talks about how volunteering as a sports coach at university  led him to teaching…

I started volunteering as a hockey coach while I was at university. I coached the college teams. I didn’t have any training to be able to coach. I was a case of ‘learning on the job’. I had to figure out how to book pitches, organise times that would work for everyone, buy equipment, approach the college for funding etc. I figured it all out as I was going along – something I think’s probably been quite useful in terms of my work. 

The volunteering led me to Teach First.  Coaching is like teaching. It’s all about working face-to-face with people.  It made me think about being a teacher. When I saw the Teach First ad and went along to their open evening it tallied with my experience. I saw there were things that I could do and that I enjoyed doing. 

Once I applied to Teach First, I used volunteering as a way of showing I had certain competencies. They asked me to talk about how I’d shown leadership through coaching at the interview. That was back in 2006 and I’ve been teaching ever since.

I’ve also carried on volunteering, and have for the last three years coached a hockey team for the London Youth Games., I’ve also been a volunteer governor at St Mary Magdalen junior school since 2012.  I think it’s really helped me become more effective in my current job. Through volunteering, I’ve found out how senior leadership at school works. It’s given me a really good grounding for when I look to make my next career move. Working with senior leadership has made me more confident too.

If you’re thinking about volunteering, you should do it. I promise you that the skills you have from whatever your previous experience will be really useful to someone out there.  You’ll also develop some valuable new skills too. It’s just about finding that space and getting involved. I can vouch that it really is very rewarding when you do.

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