FOR some people the idea of going back to their old school would fill them with something approaching dread.

That strange smell in the science labs. The echoing of raised voices in the sportshall. The way shafts of sunlight come through the windows of a classroom at a particular time of day, seemingly picking out the same specks of dust as years before.

Things like this might be unwelcome reminders of less happy times to those whose schooldays were not all about fun, friendships and fulfilment.

But this is clearly not an issue for a group of young people who have chosen to take part in an acclaimed Oxfordshire teacher training programme.

Oxfordshire Teacher Training (OTT) provides school-centred primary and secondary training on a salaried and non-salaried basis to recent university graduates and also older people who are seeking a change of career.

At present, OTT has 71 people in training as part of its 2017/2018 academic year cohort, and a number of them have one of their placements at their old Oxfordshire school, working alongside members of staff who were teaching them not that very long ago.

Among them is Brian George, from Marston, who is training to become a biology teacher at The Cherwell School in Summertown.

The 27-year-old left school in 2006, doing his sixth-form at what is now City of Oxford College, before studying sports science at the University of Kent.

He became a footwear supervisor at the Sports Direct stores in Cowley and Botley, before returning to Cherwell in 2016, initially as a cover teacher.

Mr George said: “I helped set up the junior section at Wolvercote Cricket Club a few years back and that really sparked my enthusiasm for working with young people.

“It was odd at first coming back, especially as there are so many of my old teachers still here. But coming back is not unusual at Cherwell. There are about a dozen or so former pupils teaching here now, so that creates a family feeling and that feeling means that any initial awkwardness wears off pretty quickly.

“I was a good lad at school and never got any detentions, and I liked pretty much all my teachers, so that made it easier.

“It is great working now with people who were real inspirations to me as a kid. There’s Sarah Floris, who taught me science, Patrick Garton, who runs OTT, and Pete Davies, the PE teacher. To work alongside those people is pretty special.”

Chris Price, head at The Cherwell School, said: “For someone who has worked at the school for 25 years it is so heartening to see great young people wanting to give something back and get into teaching.

“A desire to teach often comes from the memory of an inspirational teacher, so bringing back former students can be so energising.”

Another OTT trainee back at their old school is Georgina Trafford.

The 23-year-old from Cowley is training to become a history teacher at Oxford Spires Academy in Glanville Road.

The graduate of Northampton University was at Oxford Spires when it changed from Oxford Community School to become an academy in 2011.

She said: “In the academy there was a massive push for sixth-formers to take more responsibility and a house system was introduced. I became the performing arts captain for Tolkien House.

“During my final weeks at uni I found a job going at Oxford Spires as a house support manager for Tolkien House. An HSM is a non-teaching role involving attendance, punctuality, behaviour and the safeguarding of pupils.

“I think I made it very clear over interview that I wanted the job for experience to see if I could not get eaten alive by teenagers and my passion was to be a teacher.

“There are still teachers at the school that used to teach me and I don’t think I will ever stop thinking how strange that is. Helen Beech and Christine Atkinson were my English teachers and Helen is still the head of English now. She is one of the best English teachers there are. She put up with my stroppy teenage years and helped me to understand how to use a comma, so I will be forever grateful.

“Mark Fanchi and Craig Green were my PE teachers and they are still there. It is now a running joke across the school how I never did PE and always skipped lessons, as well as forging notes, so I got called ‘George the Forge’. They now think it is absolutely amusing I am on the other side and sometimes have to put up with students not necessarily always doing what you want them to do.

“In some ways I feel like I have never really left the school and it is a bit of a security blanket for me. I just hope that one day I can be among the rest of the outstanding teachers who work here.”

Part of the River Learning Trust multi-academy group, OTT was accredited as an initial teacher training provider by the Department for Education in 2014 and is based at The Cherwell School.

Last month OTT was recognised as outstanding after its first ever inspection by Ofsted. The report by the national education regulator said: “Inspectors were deeply impressed with what school leaders told them about the impact trainees and NQTs were having on outcomes for pupils in secondary and primary schools.”

The report commended OTT’s contribution to schools in areas of social deprivation and those that require improvement, saying: “In these schools, trainees and NQTs have made a tangible impact on pupils’ progress in key areas.”