'Half pay? I don't want to be the richest man in the graveyard'

Martin Whittaker

Name: Nigel Hydes

Age: 47.

School: Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk Career to date?

I did a degree in electrical and electronic engineering at Huddersfield Polytechnic. Then I spent 20 years at BT Research Labs as a chartered electrical engineer working on hi-tech telecoms and software. Eighteen months ago, I changed careers. I took voluntary redundancy and got on to the Graduate Teacher Programme teaching maths at Thomas Mills High School. I'm now in my NQT year.

Why did you become a teacher? When I left school, wild horses wouldn't have dragged me into teaching. I didn't have the experience, the temperament or the personality. At BT, I enjoyed mentoring other colleagues. When my children went to secondary school, I got involved with the young engineers' clubs; I taught a handful of these kids GCSE electronics as private pupils.

I began to think that teaching was more enjoyable than project management and decided I could have a second career. It was a bold move - at BT, I earned more than double what I earn now. But anyway, I don't want to be the richest man in the graveyard.

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

Having my own tutor group. It's the one aspect of teaching I hadn't anticipated, but I really look forward to seeing my year 7 group. They're the highlight of every day. I love this pastoral relationship and helping to solve their little problems.

And the worst?

The endless amount of work I have to do outside the classroom and its impact on home life. Marking and preparation tends to affect my family.

What do you like most about teaching?

Those moments where pupils say: "Ah, now I understand." I remember struggling with topics when I was at school. I love the stimulating environment I get in the classroom and the staffroom. Compared to industry, teaching demands much wider personal skills.

What is your dream job?

I want to teach well and to be known for just that. If I'd wanted to be a manager, I'd have stayed in industry.

Top tip?

You can't give the pupils your best unless you are in a reasonably good humour. And despite the demands of the job, you need to sustain your own energy and enthusiasm.

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