'It's very rewarding, but you have to be doing it for the right reasons'

Name Kathy Bird

Age 31

Current post Newly qualified teacher at Hesters Way primary school, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Career to date?

I left school at 16, trained as a nursery nurse and qualified when I was 18. I was a nanny for a couple of years and travelled through Europe looking after my employers' children. I worked with children until 1993 and, after six months in Africa, I went to college to get my A-levels. I took a degree in English studies and graduated at 28. I took a year out and worked in a shop while I studied for GCSE maths. Then I took a PGCE course at Cheltenham and Gloucester college of higher education.

Why did you become a teacher?

I come from quite a big family and I was looking after my younger brothers and sisters. I have always been around small children. A natural progression for me at that time was to train as a nursery nurse. I always wanted to teach but I didn't have the right qualifications. It wasn't until I'd graduated that I really decided to go for it. I regretted leaving school at 16, but I don't regret coming into teaching at this age. I think you bring more into the job. You have a wider perspective on life.

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

When I started teaching there was so much to take in. It's such a steep learning curve, you forget you're in a classroom with children. There are so many things to organise. It's only in the last month or so that I can look back and say, 'Gosh, I'm actually working with a class of children and I'm responsible for their education.' That can be quite overwhelming.

And the worst?

When a child was removed from my class because of bad behaviour, I went through every strategy I could, but it was considered that he'd be more settled in another class. That was difficult. You have to come to the realisation that it's not you.

What do you like most about teaching?

Having my own classroom, having that space, displaying children's work and being able to look round and see what I've done with them. It's something I'm achieving with the children.

What is your dream job?

Deputy headship or something in literacy.

Top tip?

Ask yourself if this is what you want to be doing. It's a hard and demanding job. It's very rewarding, but you have to be doing it for the right reasons.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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