Case study

Academic qualified controller — Andrea Walsh

Andrea worked as an economics and business studies teacher in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before becoming an academic qualified controller

How did you get your job?

I applied online during the summer of 2014. The recruitment process involved two Skype interviews along with a technical phone interview to test my economics knowledge. The process moved very quickly and I signed a contract within a fortnight of applying.

What does a typical day involve?

As a teacher working for SABIS I had an average of six teaching periods per day. We were free to leave once we'd finished teaching, which was a huge advantage of working there. The school's curriculum was well organised and mapped out, teachers were told in advance which material would be taught during each lesson. This cut planning down to minimal amounts. There was some time spent marking written exams but the majority are now done online.

My role as an academic qualified controller is to ensure that no student fails. It's my job to intervene with students who are having difficulty and execute a plan to get them on track. Teacher training is an important part of my job as I'm also line manager for the 40 teachers working within the department. I have direct contact with parents on a daily basis to keep them informed of their child's academic progress.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with both the teachers and parents to develop and implement the best intervention strategies. It's extremely satisfying to see a struggling student succeed as a result of everyone's efforts.

Myself and many of my colleagues have taken the opportunity to travel during our lengthy paid holidays, with tourist destinations in Asia and Africa only a short distance away. Working here has allowed me to gain relevant experience, complete my teaching qualification and progress into a management role, while enjoying a comfortable and interesting lifestyle.

What are the challenges?

Every day brings a new scenario to deal with and it's difficult to know how to deal with every situation that arises. I ask for the advice of my colleagues and superiors when I'm unsure of how to handle an issue effectively. The company has a well‐defined chain of command so I'm always clear of where to seek advice.

In what way is your degree relevant?

Having an economics degree allowed me to teach secondary level. I've prepared students for international external exams in economics and business studies.

Completing a PGCE last year has allowed me to be a mentor to three teachers who are completing the course this year. This means that I'm constantly referring back to the coursework I completed myself.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I've always wanted a career in education. SABIS allowed me to gain experience before investing in postgraduate study. In the future, I'd consider completing a Masters in education management or career guidance.

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