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The Corporation

Posted: 09/08/22

From barracks to classroom – Army veterans bring expertise to college

Two army veterans turned teachers have brought the fruits of their studying labours to West Nottinghamshire College’s uniformed protective services (UPS) team as they embark on new careers in FE.

  • James (left) and Wayne with their haul of new gym equipment
  • Wayne will work with improving the UPS students' fitness levels using the new equipment
  • James demonstrates working out with the sack weights

James Maosa, 41, and Wayne Hall, 49, have over 40 years’ service between them in the British Army and they are now switching careers to teach young people the skills they need to move into the uniformed services.

James, originally from Kenya, joined the British Army in 2003, beginning his basic training with the Royal Signals as a radio operator. His training then took him to Bath for three years, followed by Nuneaton and then overseas to Germany for four years. James was also deployed to Afghanistan for six months before returning to the UK.

James first thought about going into teaching following working in a gym whilst in Germany. He found he enjoyed the training and instructing and the feeling of watching new recruits progress their fitness for life in the army fuelled his desire to teach.

Wayne joined the army in 1997 to be with the Royal Engineers. He did three tours of training establishments, including one at the Bassingbourn barracks in Cambridgeshire and two at the Gibraltar barracks in Hampshire.

As an electrical engineer in the Army his qualifications took him abroad numerous times having served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, and The Falklands. With six years of teaching under his belt, this led him to qualify as a Level 4 DETTLS and KETTLS teacher, followed by a Level 5 coaching and mentoring qualification.

Wayne gained his Degree in Leadership and Management back in Chilwell, Nottingham and travelled back to the south of the country to his regiment. It was here he started to think about what he wanted to do next with just five years remaining to serve. For him, teaching was the next step.

Both Wayne and James enrolled at the University of Portsmouth on the Further Forces programme and this is where they met. This fully-funded training route is aimed at those leaving the military and want to train as an FE teacher. Commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, Department for Education, Gatsby Charitable Foundation and Education and Training Foundation, Further Forces gives people the chance to work towards a Certificate in Education of PGCE whilst learning on the job.

The duo struck up a friendship being in the same cohort, sitting together in class and going on to undertake their micro-teaching positions at West Nottinghamshire College for the UPS curriculum.

As part of the Further Forces programme, both James and Wayne decided to aim for the highest qualification they could at the Post Graduate level 7. Part of this qualification required them to structure a research project. They worked together researching and investigating the effects of students retaking maths and English GCSEs in an FE environment.

Their in-depth research of how this affects staff, students and colleges involved linking in with other FE institutions to compile their wide-ranging findings and analysis. The University of Portsmouth were so impressed that they published their findings and with that came a reward.

Wayne said: “We were presented with £2,000 thanks to our research studies. We decided that this money would be very well-spent on some fitness and gym equipment for the UPS curriculum. To be able to see students using the very latest equipment to put them through basic fitness before joining the uniformed services – this will give me such pride.”

A number of gym blocks, benches, kettlebells, battle ropes, weighted bags, parallette dip bars and pull-up bars have now been installed in the college’s sports hall at the Derby Road campus for students to make use of in their practical sessions from next academic year.

James added: “I’m really looking forward to seeing our students making the most of this equipment and getting their fitness to premium levels. We will be organising training sessions which are reflective of those which new recruits take part in, so that the students can be confident that they can attain these fitness levels.”

James and Wayne are now full-time teachers at the college and graduated from their studies at the University of Portsmouth via Zoom at the end of July.

Wayne is still serving as a reservist at the Army Reserve Centre in Carlton, Nottingham.