'At the end of the lesson they were hooked. The penny had dropped'

Name Matthew Swan. Age 24. Current post Newly qualified teacher, supply teaching

Career to date?

I did a degree in American studies at the University of Leicester. After graduating in 1998, I worked in an office for a year, and started a secondary PGCE at Kingston University in September 2000. Since qualifying, I've been a supply at numerous schools.

Why did you become a teacher?

History was my favourite subject at school, and I did the degree because of my interest in history and America. The idea of wanting to teach just evolved. I went back to my old school, spoke to a few teachers and my university tutor - the idea grew on me. I did some work experience and I haven't looked back.

I chose supply teaching because I wanted to get more experience before settling on a school permanently. I'm doing general supply - work's already set and you're baby-sitting really. I have done a couple of blocks at one school where I taught religious studies for a half-term. Having done a year's supply, I don't want to do much more - you sometimes get walked over. Because you don't know the classes, managing them can be difficult.

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

Studying the First World War with a Year 10 group. They didn't look as though they had any interest in the subject, me, or anything else. I showed them a clip from the Stanley Kubrick film Paths of Glory as an introduction. At the end of the lesson they were hooked. The penny had dropped, it was great.

And the worst?

At one school I was told by a Year 11 class to eff off. Sometimes it's difficult to manage or enforce discipline in a classroom. If you're at one school for a day, children know they can get away with some behaviour. I just ride it - I don't take it to heart. It's the nature of the beast with supply.

What do you like most about teaching?

It's unpredictable. You can have the best-laid plans, but they can be turned upside down by one child.

What is your dream job?

To do what historians Simon Schama, David Starkey and Lawrence Rees do, but specifically targeted at children. The popular stereotype of the history teacher is still the odd boffin who churns out battles, dates and events.

Top tip?

Stay positive, learn to speak not shout, be yourself and remember, it's only a job.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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