Real life stories

Whether you're thinking about your job or training options, there's almost certainly somebody, somewhere, with a story to tell that might help inspire you to make your next move.

Stephen Garraway - Design & technology technician

Name: Stephen Garraway

Job Role: Design & technology technician

School: Arran High School

Bio: Technician with background in engineering

My role at Arran High School is Technical Technician (Design & Technical). Due to local government cut backs I also took over the role of Audio Visual Technician in 2011. I also do work for the primary and nursery on our campus. I am one of two senior first-aiders, UNISON Steward and Health & Safety rep.

The position was advertised in the local newspaper. At the time of interview I was sub-contracting to a building company as a joiner, something which I had done for four years. Prior to that I had a partnership in a wood craft business for twenty years doing carving, turning and furniture work in local timber that we cut, milled and dried ourselves.

My role includes:

  • Cutting materials for pupil work
  • Assisting workshops in teaching engineering and woodwork processes
  • Working with less able pupils to get them up to speed or finishing their projects
  • Stock control and inventory of the department, as well as first aid materials
  • Finding local timber through contacts and having it milled and kilned
  • Making demonstration projects
  • Using CNC (computer numerical control) machine
  • Videoing and editing and producing DVDs for school shows, fashion shows etc
  • Making props and set for school shows
  • Sound and light for school shows, parties, assemblies etc
  • Photography for sporting occasions, school shows, parties, public plasma screens
  • Repairing anything in school including electronics, furniture, sports equipment, music equipment, staff spectacles!
  • Assisting on some school trips as male member of staff and first aid
  • Referee occasional football matches and assist after school football coaching

My background is in engineering background, and I have experience of many types of woodwork, carpentry and furniture manufacturing. To do my job you need good computer literacy, good maths and English skills, and basic knowledge of electronics. You need an ability to learn new skills and adapt, an in-depth knowledge of resistant materials and the ability to know when to pass a problem to others more knowledgeable.

I have O grades, an apprenticeship in tool making and City & Guilds 193 & 393 Engineering. Having an engineering apprenticeship was crucial to getting this job. Maths and English are used constantly for measurement and ordering of materials, and they just have to be good when working with pupils.

I am a UNISON Steward and Health & Safety Rep. I have done various training including IOSH Managing Safely, Portable Appliance Testing, Woodworking Machine Regulations, First Aid courses, Risk Assessment in Practice, Fire Warden Training (MITIE) and Manual Handling. The health & safety courses have really helped as I can demonstrate to pupils why health & safety is crucial to their wellbeing. So many of them read such rubbish in newspapers about health & safety, and hear politicians denigrate it too, but I am able to give a truer perspective of what can happen to employees that are hurt at work and the pupils really listen. I have seen, and had, accidents at work so the pupils do buy into what I say. I conduct a bi-annual school safety check with the management team. 

Working in our school has been a delight for most of the time, with the odd exception caused by pupil or staff issues. I have the opportunity to do a huge variety of work and have gained much experience in many different skills. Working alongside pleasant, polite teachers is excellent and it is gratifying to have my skills recognised and utilised by the teaching staff. Working with pupils can be very challenging and again the pleasure of seeing them learn and improve, not just with subjects but as young people as well, is very gratifying. Having the AV Technician duties thrust upon has also been good, even with the increased workload, as I have learnt new skills of a completely different nature, but I have been given the time to learn these skills.

My advice to someone interested in this work is to be very interested in the ethos of the school and be adaptable. Never stop learning and remember that helping out is good for yourself, your department and the school and always remember that you are there for the benefit of pupils. They are the reasons schools exist. The more experience you gain the more beneficial and interesting your work becomes.

Stephen Garraway