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Name Debbie Hawksley

Age 28

Current post Newly qualified, teaching art and design at Llantarnam comprehensive, Cwmbran, south Wales

Career to date?

After A-levels I did a foundation course in art and design, then a fine art degree at De Montfort University. For two years I worked in a pub while I was doing a postgraduate diploma in arts in health and education at Derby University. Then I worked as a special needs classroom assistant for two years at my old school. I soon realised I wanted a change. I knew I could do more, and the people I worked with encouraged me to go into teaching. I did a PGCE at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, last year.

Why did you become a teacher?

As a classroom assistant I kept thinking I couldn't get on with teenagers.

But I realised you could build up a great relationship with them and feel like you're having an impact on their lives. I felt I could make more of a difference as a teacher. And you think about the best teachers you had at school and the experience you had with them. It sticks with you. I'm passionate about my subject so I want the students to enjoy it. There's a lot of bad publicity surrounding art - it's sometimes seen as a "dossy" subject, but there's so much we do, and there's a pastoral side to it.

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

We have an art club - I have kids waiting for me in the morning, and they come in at lunchtime, and they stay after school. A girl in Year 9 wrote me a poem that used the device of spelling out my name: D is forI and so on.

It was nice to know I'd been available to her when she had problems, and to find this long poem about me on my desk.

And the worst?

Doing aboriginal painting. We used cotton buds to do the dot paintings; one boy put one in his ear, and his ear started bleeding.

What do you like most about teaching?

Every day is different - it's unpredictable. The children can make your day or break it. But every day there tends to be something rewarding.

What is your dream job?

Probably to be a head of year. I'm interested in the pastoral side of teaching.

Top tip?

Go in with your eyes open, don't be afraid of the children, and don't be afraid of making mistakes, because no day is ever going to be perfect.

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