Neil Copsey joined UTC Leeds in September 2019 to teach Sciences specialising in Biology and is Head of Key Stage 5.
What made you go into teaching?
Many moons ago I worked for Starbucks and I was in a managers’ meeting talking about the ideal amount of foam on a cappuccino when I thought, “There are more important things in life than this!”. I decided I wanted to do something more meaningful and more productive for the community, so I applied for teacher training.
Where did you train?
My degree was in Medical Microbiology at the University of Leeds. A few years later, when I decided to become a teacher, I did a School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) course in Leeds and gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education qualification from Leeds Trinity University.
How has your teaching career progressed?
I’ve always pushed myself, so after I did my NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year I became a leader for Key Stage 3 then Key Stage 5. Over 14 years I’ve worked in more than five schools and I’ve learnt from every situation which has helped me to progress.
What do you love about teaching?
I love working with students. Sometimes, when I walk around Leeds, I hear, “Hello Mr Copsey”, and it’s someone in their 20s whom I’ve taught, who then proceeds to tell me what they’ve done with their lives. Knowing that I’ve helped to inspire that person, particularly if they had very low expectations when they were younger and they’ve gone on to do something really positive, makes me feel honoured. It’s fantastic to have that kind of impact on someone’s life.
What do you think it takes to be a good teacher?
I think patience is very important, also creativity and resilience. It’s the things we talk to the students about all the time, the soft skills. We need all of those skills, firstly to model them to the students, but equally because every day is different and we never know what’s going to happen. Having those skills are vital for life as well as work.
Why join a UTC rather than another school?
I’ve always worked in very different organisations across Bradford, Doncaster and Leeds, and this is an environment I’ve never worked in before. I like the fact that it’s 14 to 18 year olds, I love the fact that it’s really focused on engineering and STEM subjects, which I’ve had a lot to do with over the past few years. Also, Leeds is my home town, I’ve lived here for about 20 years, so it’s nice to feel I can make a difference in the community I live in.
What are your first impressions of working at the UTC?
I absolutely love it. The students are amazing, the teachers are amazing, the results are improving, and I think the future of the UTC is going to be fantastic. I feel really privileged that I can be part of that.