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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

He left school with no GCSEs, but he’s back as a trainee teacher

Apr 14 2009 by Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

A VALLEYS student who left education with no qualifications or prospects when he was 16 has returned to his old school – to train to be a teacher.

Lyndon Powell, 37, of Clare Street, Merthyr Tydfil, left Cyfarthfa High School after failing his GCSEs because he didn’t go to any of the exams.

“I was a bit of rebel when I was younger,” said Mr Powell, who now has two young children of his own – Thomas, eight, and Ffion, five – with wife Karen, 39.

But after working as an ambulance technician with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 19 years, Mr Powell decided it was finally time to go back to school.

Lyndon Powell and his children
“I just needed a fresh new challenge so I started studying with the Open University. I got my maths GCSE two years ago and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” he said.

Mr Powell has returned to Cyfarthfa High School – part of which is housed in Cyfarthfa Castle – as part of his training for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in music.

“It was very strange going back,” he said. “It was odd as there were a lot of teachers still there who used to teach me. I was not the best pupil in the world so they were certainly surprised to see me again as a teacher. At school it would have been the last career I would have wanted to go into at the time but it is something which has become interesting to me as I have got older.”

One teacher who used to teach English to Mr Powell as a boy, was Trevor Jones. Mr Jones is now his training coordinator at the school. He said: “When we heard he’d belatedly recognised his vocation and was intent on pursuing an open university PGCE course, we were delighted to help – and we’ve certainly not been disappointed.

“For a family man in full time – and quite demanding – employment, this course has been an invaluable route into the profession for Lyndon, and an opportunity which he has seized with great determination and commitment.”

Mr Powell said: “From my own experience I know that the schooling system can quite often let down and write off pupils who don’t flourish at an early age. Doing my bit to put that right is inspiring me through my course, and one of the reasons I want to be able to pass on my love of music to others.

“Studying for my teaching qualifications has shown me that with dedication, perseverance, hard work and of course the support of my family, absolutely anything is possible.

“I still can’t believe I’m on my way to being a teacher. To go back and start my experience at my old school really brought it home to me what an achievement it is. Once I have my qualifications, I would love to get a job at my old school – that would be ideal.”

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