I'm loving it

Andrea Honeybun, a latecomer to teaching, is reaping the rewards of her previous experience. Stephen Manning reports

Andrea Honeybun is in her second term as a newly qualified teacher at Manhood Comm-unity College, a comprehensive in Selsey, West Sussex.

The 38-year-old mother of four had expected the job would be more difficult than her training course, but says: "It was a bit of a shock to be a professional teacher all of a sudden, where you have to do everything yourself.

"But, although I was apprehensive, the school has a friendly, comfortable atmosphere where everyone knows each other and newcomers are welcomed. I have loved it."

Her specialism is history, and she also takes geography and RE. "I like the debate in RE. You get to know the children on a different level. You might start somewhere but not know where you will end up, which can be fascinating." In her second term, she has already taken on the role of assistant to the head of PSHE.

Andrea is a relative latecomer to the profession. "I always wanted to teach, I think because I am a frustrated actor. When I was at university I would get particularly excited about doing presentations for people."

She left school without a maths qualification and, after university, landed a well-paid job as a sales manager for a yachting publication. Andrea decided to defer her teaching dream while she paid off her student debts and studied maths one day a week at a further education college.

Before starting work on her PGCE course at Chichester University in September 2005 Andrea spent a year working as a cover supevisor at a community college in Gosport and gaining experience by working in every part of the school.

"On the course you're driven by your mentor who's by your side constantly, but I had already learned it was important to build up a network of contacts with everyone from the heads of department to the caretaker." The last two terms of her course were 75 per cent timetabled, which is unusually high and only 15 per cent less than an NQT, so she became accustomed to the level of planning.

Manhood Community College, which has about 560 pupils, has just come out of special measures, but she was well equipped to deal with behaviour issues.

"Being a cover supervisor was more about behaviour management than educating. There, I was challenged all the time so I already had a lot of experience of dealing with it.

"It's really just attitude rather than something more serious. I found it's better to be non-confrontational. As one kid said to me, it's really only because I'm new, and it will settle down."

About two-thirds of her colleagues on her PGCE course were career-changers.

"But being older and having children gave me a lot of confidence in dealing with whatever faced me. The school has been very supportive and I feel I've improved 100 per cent since September."

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