“Since attending the International Conference, the support I have received has been overwhelming”

Nigel Lungenmuss-Ward is in his second year of teaching after a major career change in his mid-20s. He tells us what inspired him to make the move into education, the satisfaction his role brings him and the benefits he’s received from his UKLA membership.


Upon leaving school I had a series of uninspiring jobs. I joined Tesco in the summer of 2005 and I continued to work for them right up until I started my first teaching job in 2018. Alongside my Tesco job, I undertook duties as an R.A.F. Regiment Reserves Gunner. In 2009, I volunteered for a tour of Afghanistan, which is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life; the completion of this tour and the arrival of my first child is the point in which a paradigm shift occurred in my life.

I didn’t want to be a parent who was unable to help their children with their homework so in 2012, at the age of 25, I signed up to retake my Maths and English GCSEs at my local college. It was here that my view of education was changed. The environment that the tutors created showed me that education could open doors in my life that previously were closed to me. After finishing my GCSEs, I started to dream and believe that I could become a teacher. I signed up for an Access course and a three-year degree at City College Norwich before going on to complete my PGCE at the University of East Anglia. This six-year journey led me to undertake my first teaching post in September 2018. I am now a Y5 teacher.

There are many aspects of teaching that I find rewarding. I place a lot of emphasis upon reading and writing in class. I also have an Instagram account that promotes reading for pleasure and which aims to inspire children and parents to read. When I receive pictures of children reading at home, and see the progress they make in class, this brings me lots of satisfaction. These are the moments I dreamed about upon my journey to becoming a teacher. I’m looking forward to more of the same with my new class. This new school year, I have also been given the responsibility of being part of the reading leadership team so I will be promoting reading across the school as well as in my class.

I’ve been a member of UKLA since 2017. I have found English 4-11 magazine very helpful. In particular, I enjoy the book reviews and I love reading about what other teachers have been doing, so I can improve my own practice. As a new teacher, it’s important to me that I build on the knowledge I have gained over the last year and continue to develop my pedagogy.

In July 2019, I went to the UKLA International Conference for the first time. It was a very positive experience indeed. The best thing about it was all the amazing people I met from all over the world who had the same goals and aspirations as myself. It made me feel even more motivated to teach and promote reading and writing in my classroom, and to write my own stories. Since I have been back, I have written two picture books, a short story and I have started writing a novel, all of which I dream of getting published. I loved all the workshops and keynotes, but a particular highlight for me was watching and listening to the amazing Chris Riddell. I have already registered my interest in next year’s international conference, and I cannot wait until my next UKLA event.

I cannot recommend the UKLA enough. Since attending the International Conference, the support I have received has been overwhelming. For example, I have been added to a Whatsapp group for new teachers so we can support each other and share ideas. It feels as if I am part of one big family, which is focused on improving education for children. I am proud to be a member and I hope others will join too.

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