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Something more than the nine to five

Mark Hopkins - 29 years old. Science PGCE at Leeds university

Mark Hopkins is a typical ITT entrant. In his late 20s he has tried many jobs, including a year working for an insurance company in Australia.

"I was ready to settle down and started looking for a new career where the rewards extended beyond my salary," he says. "Something more than the nine to five. So many of my friends who are teachers kept telling me how great it was - and here I am."

"Here" is a big secondary in Leeds, where Mark is teaching the full age range as part of his school experience. "Before Christmas, I was teaching 10 lessons a week, this term it's 12," he says.

He feels he has been lucky with his placement. "Classroom management isn't an issue, most kids do as they are told the first time."

The group of around a dozen PGCE students are offered a two-hour professional development seminar once a week. "I suppose they could have given us the staff handbook, but these lessons are useful," he says.

Workload is high, but he feels he has it under control. Leeds university has worked to reduce the pressure on PGCE students, but Mark also feels that mature students have the edge when it comes to work management.

"Teaching requires good time-management skills. You need to prioritise what needs to be done. I think people who have had previous work experience find that much easier," he says.

His group of Leeds PGCE students have also set up an Internet support system using the Yahoo message boards. It's a way to keep in touch, and it also allows people to ask around if they have a problem or a question to ask.

"Every day there's a new question on some issue," he says.

Mark is enjoying the course. And the teaching experience? "It's interesting and varied." Negatives? "It's really hard to think of any so far."

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