'Don't listen to people who try to put you off'

Name Belinda Plews. Age 24. Current post Newly qualified teacher at Mount Wise primary school, Plymouth.

Career to date?

After A-levels I did a geography degree at Plymouth University. I knew I wanted to go into teaching, but I wanted to turn my hand to something else first - I thought I'd be all schooled out by the time I got to school. I worked for the national marine aquarium in Plymouth. It was an exciting project, even though I was an accounts clerk, which sapped me of my will to live. After that, I went travelling in Australia, and when I came back I focused on getting into teaching. I did a PGCE at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth.

Why did you become a teacher?

I enjoy working with children. I was always a bit reluctant to grow up completely, and going into teaching gave me the opportunity to stay young. I knew I wasn't an office person through some work experience I'd done - it felt claustrophobic. I like to be on the go and, to use a cliche, I'm a people person. The unpredictability of working with large groups is what keeps me going.

What's the best thing that's happened to you so far?

Realising that I'd been accepted as a full-on, bona fide teacher. I was a student teacher at this school so I think the pupils were always slightly confused about my role. But when we came back after Christmas and they were pleased to see me, that was when I felt I'd made it.

And the worst?

Coming home on a Friday night an emotional wreck. Because you don't leave it at 3pm - it's still in your head, you live it all the time because you care. That's been difficult. It's all made easier by being around experienced people who are willing to help.

What do you like most about teaching?

When a child suddenly gets something and you know you helped. It's not necessarily seeing all children get level 4s - it's just seeing somebody struggling. You word it differently and it hits the spot.

What is your dream job?

I want to remain in the classroom. I know it's early to say, but a head's role doesn't appeal. In the short term I'd like to become an advanced skills teacher.

Top tip?

Don't listen to people who try to put you off. Everybody told me, "You're mad. Don't do it." I didn't hear one positive remark from people before I went into teaching. Don't listen to them. If you've made the decision and you want to do it, you'll enjoy it.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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