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Globetrotting teacher puts down roots in Bradford

After 12 years teaching and training teachers internationally, 35-year-old Antonia O’Sullivan decided to fulfil a life-long ambition and return to the UK to train as a primary school teacher.

Having taught English to foreign nationals across Europe and South East Asia, she was keen to find somewhere that could give her both the challenge she craved and the diversity she had come to love.

Antonia’s research eventually took her to Leeds, where she studied for a masters and then to a teacher training post in Bradford, chosen because of the city’s reputation as an innovative learning centre and because of its rich cultural diversity.

“It’s the best decision I could have made,” says Antonia, who is preparing to start her first year as a newly qualified teacher in September.

“After looking at numerous different training providers, I decided on the Exceed Academies Trust in Bradford, which attracted me because it was clear from the start of my relationship with them that they really wanted to support and get to know me. I wasn’t just a number.

“The training was all in-school, so from day one I was getting real experience of what primary school life is all about. I was also incredibly lucky to have so many very diverse schools in the area – my placements, for example, ranged from Horton Grange, an ethnically diverse inner-city primary, to Oakworth Primary in leafy Keighley.”

With her training now behind her, Antonia is looking forward to seeing the children of Horton Grange again, this time as a fully qualified professional.

She says: “Obviously things have changed massively in the last few months due to the Coronavirus but I’m still really excited.

“It won’t be easy and there’s obviously a little bit of apprehension. Children tend to find the routine of school very grounding and for many that will have been disrupted, so in addition to getting to know a new class I’ll be working hard with colleagues to create a safe, comforting and secure learning environment.”

With the jet-setting behind her for now, and her roots firmly established in Bradford, Antonia has nothing but praise for the opportunities the city and the district offer to new and aspiring teachers.

“Having been a teacher myself and having trained others to teach, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d find the whole experience of going back to being a pupil myself. “she recalls.

“But I needn’t have worried because it’s been fantastic. I definitely feel that choosing Bradford was the right decision because its amazing diversity means that I’m prepared and ready to teach in any kind of environment.

“The whole experience has more than lived up to expectations – it’s actually blown me away to be honest. I was shocked at how modern Bradford is in its approach. It feels very much like we’re ahead of the curve and I can’t wait to get started now!”

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