Hear from eight ex-teachers on their move to a new career in technology

Sophie Elms - 3 August, 2023

Category : Blog

Hear from eight ex-teachers on their move to a new career in technology

The Arbor team, now over 200 strong, is a diverse mix of of experienced specialists, ex-teachers and Edtech engineers passionate about making a difference to the sector. Ultimately, we’re here to help schools and trusts stress a little less and focus on what matters most – improving the lives of teachers and outcomes of students everywhere.

The Arbor team, now over 200 strong, is a diverse mix of of experienced specialists, ex-teachers and Edtech engineers passionate about making a difference to the sector. Ultimately, we’re here to help schools and trusts stress a little less and focus on what matters most – improving the lives of teachers and outcomes of students everywhere.

We sat down with eight ex-teachers who chose to make this move to the technology space and asked them how they found the transition, what top tips they’d give to others looking to change career and their experience of working at Arbor.

Ex-teacher careers

What attracted you to make the move to Arbor?

Suzanna: My previous job had been quite focussed on Higher Education and I missed working more closely with schools. I was also very aware of the pain of using legacy software as a teacher and so Arbor’s mission and product are important to me too.

Sue: I wanted to work in a product role that would allow me to use what I knew about working in a primary school to make life better for teachers.

Ana: One thing that attracted me to Arbor was their commitment to employee wellbeing and career development, since joining I can definitely see that this is a genuine priority for the company!

Ceara: I used Arbor in my previous school during my last term there. From this, I noticed the impact on workload this was already making and enjoyed how I could use this system with ease.

Robin: I genuinely loved teaching, it was all I wanted to be when I was little, but I just couldn’t love the impact it had on my family. I found that I was using all my “sparkle”, energy and patience during the school day, and had none left at the end for my own kids! I started to look for something with more flexibility and that would give me more headspace to focus on my family, but still made me feel like I was making an impact and had a purpose. When I read into Arbor, I was so excited because it ticked those boxes, without making me feel like I was starting a completely new career where all my years of experience in education would’ve been wasted.

Ashleigh: I love that they really care about their staff and can offer progression within the company as well as support people with CPD. 

How did you find the recruitment & onboarding process at Arbor?

Suzanna: It was brilliant – one of the best recruitment experiences I’ve had. Sophie and Santino were great at keeping me in-the-loop throughout the process and it always felt friendly and clear. 

Ana: The recruitment and onboarding process was incredibly efficient and transparent! I was kept in the loop throughout the recruitment and pre-employment process and was seriously impressed with my onboarding experience! My equipment was sent to my home address prior to my start date with everything set up so that I was ready to go!

Ceara: I was very nervous about venturing into the world outside of the classroom but the recruitment and onboarding process at Arbor was so supportive and I really felt heard. All of my worries were supported and any training I needed for the role was provided. It couldn’t have gone any better! 

Juliet: From day one at Arbor, I had such a warm reception and constant support throughout my first few months. I was never made to feel stupid, even when I asked what an acronym stood for a third time…  

Ashleigh: Really informative. I felt that questions that I had could be answered. I first applied for a role and was told about an even better suited role coming soon which showed that I had been listened to and recruiting staff cared about my needs and the opportunities for me to be a successful employee. 

Jamie: Fantastic – there was always someone there to help and guide, as well as point in the right direction to further develop my learning! 

Do you feel you are still making an impact within your new role at Arbor?

Suzanna: Yes. I often talk with schools about how Arbor has changed the way they work. I’m proud that I can support our customers in making sure they get the most from Arbor, so they can get time back for students and for themselves.

Ana: Absolutely! The data that school staff need to use and analyse is ever increasing, alongside many other parts of their workload! Helping somebody with a task they were really worried about or showing them a more efficient way to do something is something I find incredibly rewarding! 

Sue: Yes! Knowing that the work I do is useful to thousands of schools, and the hundreds of thousands of staff and students (not to mention their parents) still blows my mind.

Juliet: Knowing I work for a social impact company, which prioritises students and staff when developing the product means I don’t have the guilt of leaving the classroom. With poor work-life balance being a huge factor in my quitting teaching, I love knowing that we’re improving this for current teachers with our MIS.

Edtech careers

How do you find working in a fast paced SaaS environment?

Ana: I love that I am still working in a fast paced environment! I really enjoy this aspect of my job and love that I am challenged and learning something new every day! 

Robin: Schools are such fast-paced environments, so this is something that I have been accustomed to, but it is fast paced in a different way, so it can take a bit of getting used to. However there are lots of genuinely helpful wellbeing initiatives within Arbor, and when the whole company has such a “mental health friendly” approach, it really does feed into all aspects of the job. 

Ashleigh: I love the challenge and look forward to learning from others and keeping up to date with changes. It keeps me engaged in my job role, helps me to learn more and provides a healthy amount of challenge to my days.

Jamie: It suits me perfectly! I like to have priorities, and strive to achieve them in the most efficient way possible. 

What is your top tip for adapting to a hybrid way of working?

Suzanna: When you work remotely, make sure you have clear boundaries between home and work. If you have a dedicated working space, that’s ideal, but even just having a good routine can help. For example, I often go for a walk after work to help decompress from the day. When you’re in the office, try to make the most of the in-person time you have with people.

Ana: My top tip is to separate your work and relaxing space if you can, even if it is just a “zone” of a room! I taught from home during the pandemic but did not have a proper set-up for this and working from home feels totally different now that I do. 

Juliet: Routine routine routine! Switching from a totally inflexible, rigid timetable as a secondary teacher, it was a huge change for me to manage my own time. By planning out my day every morning, I find my WFH days are much more productive, and I cherish the opportunity to go for a long walk every lunch time rather than stand in the school canteen!

What was the biggest surprise/challenge you have found moving to your new role?

Suzanna: Flexibility. When I first left teaching, the biggest difference was that I mostly chose how to structure my own work for the day. Even with a deadline, I can choose to do big blocks of a particular task or work on a couple of things at once. That’s very different from teaching, when your day is often planned out for you.

Sue: I also continue to be amazed at how much others in the company really value my experiences from the classroom – I’ve been able to offer my perspective on so many different projects (learning packs from The Key, how schools set up, use and share items of IT equipment, dealing with specific situations in a school environment etc.

Ceara: Adapting to new systems and improving my technical knowledge were my biggest challenges but coming from a fast-paced working environment allowed me to be a quick learner and adapt quickly and with ease. The support I received and continue to receive here is excellent! Every day really is like a school day and I am always learning something new and developing my own professional skills. 

Robin: Not feeling bad for asking questions or clarification! Schools can be a little isolating at times in terms of speaking to other adults, as it can feel like nobody has any time. Asking questions during a staff meeting or training often felt like a faux pax! At Arbor, I think I apologised at least 50 times within my first week. This is still something I am working on, but my line manager is so patient with me and is always reassuring me when I need it! 

Juliet: The biggest surprise to me was the regular words of encouragement, recognition and thanks from colleagues. Teaching was often a thankless job, albeit rewarding, whereas I now feel valued for my efforts!

Jamie: The level of trust put in you at every level. It encourages you to repay that faith and belief by working to the best of your ability, day in, day out. 

Would you recommend a friend to join Arbor?

Suzanna: Absolutely! You’ll have the opportunity to work with interesting people on important projects for a company that really cares about you.

Ana: Absolutely! 

Sue: Yes, definitely! The Arbor team are great colleagues to work with, and I love that the ethos of the whole company is about ensuring schools have the best tools in place to help them focus on the best outcomes for their students.

Ceara: Absolutely – I tell friends/family all of the time what a positive impact Arbor has had as I stepped away from the classroom. They have always been surprised at how many different ways I have used my skills from teaching every single day as an advanced support analyst!

Robin: Without a doubt – I actually already have, multiple times! 

Juliet: 100%! 

Ashleigh: 100% 🙂

Jamie: Absolutely… Arbor has transformed my belief and mindset in the working landscape outside of education as I knew it in the past. And for that, I will forever be grateful. 

Careers for teachers

Are you a teacher looking for a new career but aren’t sure where to start? We’d love to hear from you – check out our careers page to see which roles we’re hiring for. 

If you enjoyed this article, we have also sat down with the school governors in our team – read it here!

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