- Hi Marios! We ‘re excited to have you with us! You are the Chairman and Co-Founder of Step Teachers Ltd, an education recruitment agency with offices across southern England. Could you tell us a bit more about your story?
Hello Viktoria and hello to all our fellow Greek compatriots.
My story always starts with my family. They have been at the heart of what I have achieved and who I am and continue to be. I am the youngest of 3 children born to Greek Cypriot parents who were forced to leave their ancestral home after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Arriving in the UK with little or nothing, they worked tirelessly to provide for us in very difficult circumstances. I will always be grateful for the sacrifices they made to provide me with so many opportunities in life.
It is not surprising, therefore, given the background to our arriving in the UK that our Greek culture was profoundly important to us. As the only member of the family to be born in the UK, I was especially motivated to prove that I was as much a Greek as my siblings. Similarly, my parents found life very difficult as they spoke very little English. Today, I see an increasing number of Greeks coming to the UK to seek opportunities and I remember the struggles and obstacles my parents encountered. For this reason, I am keen to help our compatriots where I can.
Now, to fast forward a little, my passion in life was history and politics. As the son of a Greek Cypriot refugee, I feel these interests were somewhat inevitable. Therefore, I wanted to be a History Teacher and having achieved my History Degree I went on to complete my PGCE at the IOE. However, I soon realised that having a passion for one subject is very different from teaching it to others. In addition, I didn’t quite appreciate how my dyslexia would dent my confidence to ‘perform’ in front of a classroom of children. Therefore, my teaching career did not last long.
I inadvertently fell into recruitment, made a great friend and together with the encouragement of my father, created Step Teachers. We didn’t set out to be the biggest but from the garage in my parents’ garden we wanted to be the nicest and politest agency out there. We were going to be an agency that respected teachers and did not ‘rip-off’ school.
18 years later the Step Family has grown and grown; we now have a network of 6 branches which covers North and South London, and stretches from Norwich in the East to Plymouth in the South-West.
- Could you share with us your impressions from our recent event “Our life in the UK” in London?
We shared an amazing day together at the recent “Our life in the UK” conference. I never fail to be impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm people have for education and welfare. The speakers were truly inspiring and did a great job sharing the depth of knowledge. Equally, the event was very well attended and the audience helped create an electric atmosphere. The idea of talks and practical workshops made for a very practical day with something for everyone.
- Can you describe to us your life in London? What is the balance between work life and family life then?
I feel very lucky to have always worked close to home. This has allowed me to complete a full day’s work and still be home in time to have mealtime with all the family. In the mornings, we have breakfast together and I take my eldest daughter to school while in the evening I am home in time for dinner. We say grace, eat together and share the day’s events.
As a family, we enjoy making the most of the beautiful country in which we live. We are members of the English Heritage and the National Trust. This allows us to visit many stately homes and walk through lots of lovely countrysides. Their facilities are amazing and well worth looking into. They really do offer value for money and are a great guide to looking at what English heritage has to offer. We also naturally like to visit our extremely large extended family back home in Cyprus!
- What inspires you every day?
I enjoy keeping busy and need to have a focus to each day. I would be lost without work each day and enjoy going to work come rain or shine. I like things to be done properly and always look forward to the next challenge. I like the thought of one day, at least one of my children working at Step Teachers. However, if they want to pursue other interests and they are happy I do not mind.
Seeing my children grow and develop also inspires me. It’s amazing to see them change and achieve things that I could not. I love to listen to them play music and we spend a lot of time attending their end of term performances. We also like attended the theatre together as a family. Our youngest loves animals so we also make frequent visits to the Zoo.
We are blessed to live in a city like London, which has beautiful parks and museums; culturally we have everything on our doorstep and we make sure we make the most of it.
- Share with us some highlights of your recent professional experience or even as a father in England.
I recently applied to join the RECs Education Sector Executive Committee. I have now run a company for 18 years and felt I could be of help to other agency owners. I am also passionate about ethical recruitment; there are too many unscrupulous agencies who defraud schools and teachers in the way they operate. The REC works hard to establish best practice among agencies. I believe all agencies should be registered with the REC (or other such organisations) so they can continue their work in raising standards in recruitment.
The Crown Commercial Service in Partnership with the Department of Education launched the Supply Teachers Framework this summer. Step Teachers was successful in its application to be selected to be part of this preferred supply list. The framework is designed to promote safe recruitment and transparency in prices. Step Teachers has always been passionate about comprehensive compliance processes when registering candidates and been honest with schools about our pricing structure so we fully support the introduction of the Framework.
- Do dreams really come true?
I say to my children, life is not always fair so expect things not to always go your way. It is natural for life to be difficult. However, life can be a dream come true if you work hard and your expectations are ‘correct’. It is important to be happy in the now and not to chase happy in a perfect life that does not actually exist.
- What is passion for you?
I am naturally a competitive person so I tend to show passion in most things that I am involved in. If you are going to do something, be passionate about it and do it properly. You might not be the best at it but you gave it your best. This shows character and that you respect yourself.
- What is your advice to the Greek community of teachers in England?
My advice would be for them to focus on improving their language skills. We take great comfort and support from our compatriots but we must not let this become an obstacle to achieving our aims in life. By this, I mean, if you only speak Greek after schools/outside of work you will not improve your language skills sufficiently. The obstacle for many people in England in the language. It is therefore vital that you socialise with native English speakers to improve your vocabulary and language skills. This was the biggest obstacle for my parents and caused the most stress for my father.
- Thank you very much for your time. Take care!
ESOL & Greek Teacher, founder of the online community and website Greekteachers.co.uk, BA (Hons), M. Ed. TESOL.
Καθηγήτρια Αγγλικής και Ελληνικής Γλώσσας ως Ξένη, ιδρυτής της διαδικτυακής κοινότητας και ιστοσελίδας Greekteachers.co.uk, BA (Hons), M. Ed. TESOL.
(Επικοινωνήστε με τον αρθρογράφο εδώ: Viktoria@greekteachers.co.uk)