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Future Leaders’ Network for Ethnic Minority Teachers: Karine Karapetyan

Future Leaders’ Network for Ethnic Minority Teachers: Karine Karapetyan

Karine is a MFL teacher of French and Spanish at Avonbourne Academy. She joined United Learning’s Future Leaders’ Network for Ethnic Minority Teachers to gain confidence and has flourished in her career since.

Describing her background, Karine said: “I came to the UK from Armenia 14 years ago and have been at my current school for a decade.

“Back in my home country, I was very confident – l was a lecturer at a university and getting my PhD. Here, I still felt confident teaching children but speaking to adults made me nervous and resulted in me losing my confidence,” said Karine, explaining why she wanted to join the network.

“I felt I was ready to do something more, but that it didn’t matter how hard I worked or how much experience I had; I wouldn’t apply for jobs for fear that I wouldn’t be considered. I found out about the network, and it gave me hope that there was a chance for me. It was exciting to see something that was created for people like me, people who perhaps lack confidence and don’t know if they’ll be considered.”

The network made an impact from the very first session. Karine said: “I distinctly remember the first session’s message was ‘be brave, be bold’ and Jon Coles said to ‘be 10% braver’ – that really stuck with me. After the first session, I started building my confidence little by little. Seeing people from different backgrounds, in high positions and as members of SLT, and hearing about their journeys and experiences was very inspiring.”

Karine added: “It made me realise I could also have a chance and I needed to try and progress, and that nobody was going to do it for me – I had to do it for myself.”

Talking about one of her main takeaways, Karine said: “I learnt not to wait for someone to come along and acknowledge you and offer you something, and to instead put myself forward. In my culture, you are taught to be humble and wait for someone to bring something to you. In the UK, it’s a completely different culture.”

Karine has gone on to achieve a new role as a result of the network. She said: “Another participant on the course was a Diversity Champion at their school, and I realised this was something I was doing in my school but without an official title. I was actively trying to engage children, arrange festivals and celebrations, and wanted students from minority backgrounds to feel part of the school and welcome. As I am so passionate about this, I contacted my line manager to ask if it would be possible to create such a post, and within a week there were interviews, and I got the job.”

After the Ethnic Minority Teachers’ Network finished, Karine had the opportunity to work with a mentor to help guide her career and progression. She said: “My mentor Christian has been absolutely great. He’s constantly pushing me and teaching me how to achieve something step-by-step. The role of Lead Practitioner came up, which is usually only for Maths, English and Science – nevertheless, Christian encouraged me to put myself forward. I submitted an expression of interest letter for Languages, interviewed, and began my role of Lead Practitioner in MFL in September 2023.

“The Lead Practitioner job would not have happened if it wasn’t for my sessions with Christian. I cannot remember a single minute of those sessions that wasn’t used to help me and guide me to get me to where I want to be. I’m now doing something I’ve always wanted, and I’m really pleased with my development and progression.”

Karine has explored other Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities. She said: “The Network helped me to start speaking to people, to praise myself and what I’m good at. As a result, the Head at my school knows I’m ready for the next step and has recommended me for the Middle Leadership Programme. I wanted to take my CPD further, so I’ve also joined United Learning’s Future Leaders’ Network for Women Teachers. Seeing very successful women in high posts is inspiring and gives me hope that one day I could achieve that as well.”

If you’re a United Learning employee and would like to join colleagues like Karine as part of a Future Leaders’ Network, discover more about the Networks and how to apply.

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