By Gogglebox star, Basit Siddiqui
My fifteen-year journey working in education is best described as unconventional. For over ten years I had the privilege and challenging role of working as a secondary school teacher of Business and ICT, eventually leading the department across three schools. Anyone who has worked as an educator for any length of time will be familiar with change, and during my decade at the chalk face there were many to contend with. However, when teaching ICT, which eventually evolved to the teaching of Computer Science, there is always an additional change to manage. As well as shifts in curriculum, pedagogical practice, and school policies; teachers that work in the realm of ICT and Computer Science must develop a greater openness to change. This involves regularly researching new pieces of software which the mark scheme deems the most appropriate, best enhances the learner’s experience but is also functional on the school’s infrastructure. Working in IT as a professional requires adaptability. Change occurs year by year, day by day and in a school setting, lesson by lesson. In any given class, the devices and software our learners use can randomly decide not to play ball, so thinking on your feet and developing contingencies is a normal part of the working day.
I hadn’t realised the gift I had been given by working in such a turbulent and forever changing environment until I left the role as full time teacher and began my journey as business owner and director of my own educational consultancy company ‘Siddiqui Education’. The decision to leave full time teaching and set up my business was done in part because of a slightly more unique aspect of my career progression. In 2013, I was afforded the opportunity to join my family on a new concept for a television show. The show ‘Gogglebox’ began in February 2013 and my family, and I have been a part of the show and the whirlwind experiences ever since. I have been able to combine my experiences on television with my passion and skill set in education to create a unique series of workshops and competitions linked to television, technology, business, oracy, and careers.
Siddiqui Education has allowed me the opportunity to work with many different schools, businesses, and institutions in a variety of ways and I really value the ability to be able to reflect and adapt my practice to suit the needs of students and other clients to ensure they get the most out of their experiences working with me.
At the core of many of the workshops I deliver there is a ‘learning by stealth’ approach in the delivery. For example, the workshop that started it all entitled ‘Let’s Pitch It’, gives children the opportunity to work in groups and research, plan and pitch an idea for a television show. At the end of every academic year, my team and I vote on the best entries and the winning team are treated to a trip to London to have a meal with the creators of Gogglebox, along with other prizes to celebrate their achievement. On the surface, Let’s Pitch It is a fun, accessible and exciting opportunity, however it allows students to develop essential transferable skills such as collaboration, oracy, written communication, and digital literacy. The workshop is designed to ensure young people acknowledge the vast opportunities in front of them and how education is the gateway to these opportunities. During the last five years I have enjoyed seeing the unique and often inspiring ideas young people come up with when they are able to let their imagination flow. When I created the initial concept for the workshop, I was certain students of every age and ability would be able to showcase their creative flair and transferable skills. To date, they have not let me down.
What I had not considered was the opportunities Siddiqui Education and Let’s Pitch It would afford me with regards to unique collaborations. The two greatest highlights for me as a new business owner have been to see the impact my workshops have on the school communities I work with and the ability to foster relationships with fantastic, passionate educational businesses and charities.
To find out more about the workshops I deliver in schools please visit www.siddiqui-education.co.uk.