Karl Coulby

History teacher at Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School in Suffolk

History teacher at Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School in Suffolk

Why did you become a teacher?

A spur of the moment thing. I was having a pint with a friend at the pub, wondering what to do with my life, and the idea of teaching came up. I thought it might be fun.

Best continued professional development?

The experience of teaching abroad. When I got a job in the Canary Isles, everyone thought I was going for the sunshine. The truth is, I didn't even know where Gran Canaria was. It was great to enjoy another culture, but I also had to develop new skills. When your pupils don't speak much English, and you don't speak much Spanish, you need to be innovative.

What's your work-life balance like?

I've been working in a boarding school this year, so the hours are long. If I'm on duty my day starts just before 7am, and goes through to 9 or 10pm. And there's weekends too.

What is your ambition?

To keep seeking new challenges. I'm taking up a head of faculty post in September in the Dominican Republic. It sounds strange, but one of the things I'm looking forward to is experiencing a hurricane.

What has teaching taught you?

The more I teach, the more I realise what a complex and difficult job this is.

Advice for an NQT?

Don't ignore the international job market. Teaching abroad can be a good career move.

Most embarrassing moment?

I recently went into a class and began teaching a lesson about the Spanish Armada. They seemed to have forgotten everything I'd taught them previously on the subject and couldn't answer any of my questions. I was getting more and more frustrated and started having a real go at them. Then I realised it wasn't the class I thought it was, and I was teaching them completely the wrong lesson

Karl Coulby, 40, was talking to Steven Hastings


2001-2004: History teacher, Chalfonts Community College, north London

2004-2007: Canterbury School, Gran Canaria

2007-2008: Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School, Suffolk

September 2008: Head of humanities, Abraham Lincoln School, Dominican Republic.

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