A FORMER immigration lawyer has taken inspiration from her old art teacher, who would greet pupil's in their "mother tongues", and is training to get into the profession herself.

Kiren Azam, 29, from Bradford, has gone from work involving foreign nationals to learning to teach French in the classroom.

The future secondary school teacher is being supported by Transition to Teach.

It is an initiative funded by the Department for Education which enables eligible career changers, those at risk of redundancy and early retirees to train for new teaching careers.

Ms Azam worked as part of a private immigration team between 2016 and 2020 after graduating from university and said she had a particular interest in the deportation of foreign nationals.

The role included assisting on all areas of immigration, asylum, EU residence and nationality law.

But Ms Azam admits the switch to a different career is not that much of a shock.

She said: “When I was choosing my A Levels, I was encouraged and advised to go into law by all of those around me, including my teachers and family.

"They said I would be well suited to law.

"My choice would have been a degree in French or history but the support was all there for me to study law.

"Even though it wasn’t my first choice of career, I could see that my skills fit the law profession."

The 29-year-old's change of heart coincided with the birth of her baby daughter.

Ms Azam had grown up in Brent, London, but decided to move up north to pursue her true childhood dream of teaching and helping young people.

She said: “When I was growing up, the teaching profession wasn’t as admired and appreciated as it is now.

"Personally, I have always respected teaching as a profession but I’m not sure others felt the same way.

"The interesting thing is that I have felt a lot more supported and appreciated since starting my teacher training than I ever experienced in my law career."

Ms Azam's journey has partly been inspired by one of her former teachers and her aim is to work with pupils in disadvantaged areas.

She said: “What I will bring to teaching is my experience of working in a high-pressure environment.

"I know that I will go above and beyond for my students, helping them inside the classroom and beyond.

"I hope to inspire my students as I was once inspired, such as by my art teacher Andria Zafirakou, who was awarded the Global Teacher's Award in 2018 - the first UK teacher to win this award.

“In Brent, London, where I grew up, Andria would stand outside the school gates, greeting pupils in their mother tongues.

"That school is now within the top five per cent of schools in the UK.

“The experience I had as Andria’s pupil is one of the main reasons I was so sure I wanted to become a teacher.

"My aim is to work with pupils in disadvantaged areas, so that I can support and inspire my pupils in the same way.”

Transition to Teach is now recruiting for is 2021 programme, which begins in September.

For more information: transitiontoteach.co.uk/