Christian Nunez Fuentes’ path to further learning (FE) is one of the twists and turns. Growing up in Peru, at the age of 22, he moved to the UK to study English – a language he had already begun to learn. This led to a 13-year career in retail IT, primarily as a technician and then as a business account manager and supervisor, in areas such as customer service, supply and sales.
Nunez Fuentes set up his own web design company in 2016, deciding it was time for a change. At the same time he received the Higher National Certificate (HNC) and the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Computing and Systems Development at Bedford College, an FE provider in the city of the same name.
This is the head of computing at Bedford College who suggested that he want to gain more knowledge by running his business as well as teaching at FE. It was an idea Nunez Fuentes enthusiastically embraced. Part of his web business was already involved in tutoring, and while he was studying, others in his course would often come back to him when they didn’t understand something.
And so, for the past three and a half years, Nunez Fuentes has been working four days a week at Bedford College, in addition to running his business while studying at his PGCE with the University of Bedfordshire, a “dual professional”.
At Bedford College, Nunez Fuentes makes full use of the range of skills he has acquired in the industry: he teaches level 1 to 5 students development, website design, ecommerce technology, marketing techniques and project management (equivalent to a higher national diploma or foundation degree).
He likes to include a lot of practical work, including gaming, in his lessons “to get out of the usual monotonous old-fashioned teaching methods.” For example, in addition to teaching the theory of how to design a webpage and complying with user requirements, he sets out practical exercises for students. “Activities involve designing a webpage on a specific topic. In this way, students learn how to create different layouts using different images to create pages for a specific product or service.
“After designing a page, it’s time to code. It’s another hands-on practical activity where they not only learn to code the page step by step, but also gain a hands-on experience creating and creating a webpage / website using real software and resources. “
Her favorite thing about working at FE is diversity. “Even though you prepare the lessons the same way, each day is different,” he says. “You have to adjust to the mood of the room, and sometimes you have to improve to get the group’s attention. That’s what I like – it’s challenging at times but it’s very interesting. Time flies. “
And it’s not just his days that are diverse, his students; Most students in the full-time course are between the ages of 16 and 20, while the oldest student in the part-time business course is about 50 years old. Completely different, “he explains.” They have different ways of receiving and retrieving information, so you need to change the way you teach or the way you convey the message, so that they understand. “
Although it is a full week – working 32 hours at Nunez Fuentes College and working all day in his business on Fridays – he enjoys the flexibility of work. She has three children, aged 13, nine and four, and has arranged her work time so she can pick them up from school. She also likes the fact that her holidays are usually like theirs.
“Sometimes as a parent, you get to the point where you see that you want to develop your career but you’re afraid to do something completely new,” he says. The great advantage of teaching at FE, he explains, is that it gives you a new way to use the skills you have acquired in the industry, and as such, you can even teach alongside your current job.
Stepping into the industry has not only benefited Nunez Fuentes – it has kept him up to date with all the latest art developments – but also his students. She has been able to provide work experience for some of her students, and is running a student competition to design a webpage for a real business; Winners not only receive a prize but also have the opportunity to work with the company to create their website. It was really satisfying, he said, “because I can see the results of what I have taught them.”
Still in the relatively early stages of his FE career, Nunez Fuentes’ immediate goal is to become a course manager. Ultimately, he wants to run his web design competition on a larger scale and, a few years later, perhaps work to help the government reform the curriculum.
For now though, he is enjoying the flexibility and range of his portfolio career. “I’m really happy with what I’m doing now, because I can spend time with my family, and enjoy what I’m doing,” he says. “If you are a person who is bothered by the monotony of everyday work, this is a great opportunity to change your life while working in the sector of your choice.”
Your skills are more valuable than you realize. If you have Relevant work experience in the industry, you can start teaching in FE without any formal educational qualification. To find out how you can make a difference in your life without changing your career, go to read-education-in-further-education.campaign.gov.uk