Be Inspired

Ex-pilot’s classroom career set for take-off in Bradford

A former commercial airline pilot now training to be a teacher in Bradford showcased the many education opportunities on offer in the city for other potential ‘career changers’ during a recent introduction to teaching webinar.

Payam Ghorbanali-Kordbacheh, who decided to swap the cockpit for the whiteboard in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, joined a panel of experts and scores of online teaching hopefuls to talk about his own journey and how it was just one of the many different routes into teaching for people at all stages of their lives.

His main message to the virtual audience about a career shift into teaching was to remain positive in the pursuit of the dream – but also to do everything you can to make sure it’s the right move for you before taking the leap and be realistic about the challenges of adapting to a new life in a school.

Payam said: “When I was younger, I was one of those kids who had two ambitions: I wanted from an early age to be either a pilot or a teacher.

“As I got a bit older, I thought it would be too difficult and expensive to train to be a pilot so moved towards teaching, doing some volunteering in schools and some teaching courses at university.

“But eventually I managed to become a bit more settled in life and got myself into a financial position where could fulfil my ambition to train to fly.”

However, fast forward to 2020 and the implications of COVID-19 for global air travel proved to be the catalyst for Payam to re-evaluate his career choice and consider a move back to his first love of teaching.

“The outbreak made me really think again about what I could really do to make a difference in the world – and that was teaching,” he explained.

“The switch back to the classroom wasn’t an easy one through. I had to adjust my mindset and realise that the move was essentially going back to square one, with a lot to learn.

“It did take a bit of time for me to overcome that feeling, having moved from a sector where it’s vital that you know exactly how everything works. I had to learn to understand that I wouldn’t be a maestro from day one and that whilst there would be positives, there would also be development areas along the way that I would need to work hard on.”

Despite the challenges, Payam eventually made his move and is currently in his first year of teacher training at the city’s Dixons Academy Trust.

As a graduate with some teaching experience already under his belt, Payam chose to go back to university to gain his post graduate qualified teacher status (QTS).

But expert teacher training providers Natasha Raheem, Vice Principal at Dixons Academy Trust, and Katie Waring, Director of Professional and Career Development at Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust, told webinar delegates that there were a wide range of different training opportunities available for aspiring teachers in Bradford.

Katie explained: “The type of route an individual chooses to gain their QTS depends on a combination of things such as the qualifications they already have, the type of training that suits them as a person and even the financial circumstances they find themselves in.

“Luckily, there are so many different routes people can take, there really is something for everyone, regardless of whether they have decided early on to be a teacher or whether, like Payam, they decide to alter their career flight path.”

Katie and Natasha laid out the many different options including building teaching qualifications into an existing three year degree course, going back to university to gain a post graduate qualification or undertaking more school-based, hands-on training through Schools Direct or School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT).

There are even specific routes for those wanting to work in more disadvantaged areas – for example the Teach First charity initiative – and grants for would-be secondary school teachers prepared to train in subject areas where there are currently shortages.

Full details of all the different ways in which you can train to become a teacher in Bradford are available at

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