All set for take-off

9th November 2007 at 00:00
A lot of my friends and family thought I was mad when I told them that I was giving up my glamorous job as an air hostess to train as a primary school teacher.

I had worked for various airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, since graduating from university in 2003. The decision to move into teaching came about because I wanted to make a difference to people's lives and, although serving complimentary gin and tonics at 30,000ft can make a passenger's day, it's by no means life changing.

There are definitely aspects of my old job that I will miss. I used to love driving home at 8am after a night flight, seeing workers on their way into the office while I was going home to bed. The fun we used to have performing the safety demonstration and making announcements over the PA system in an adenoidal voice, not to mention the stopovers in Cape Town and San Francisco.

But the role of a cabin crew member compares with that of a school teacher (minus the red lipstick). Being able to control a plane full of Club 18-30 passengers will stand me in good stead for my first school placement.

Being prepared for unexpected situations, entertaining and keeping spirits high when your charges become disgruntled, are fundamental aspects of both jobs, as is having a smile on your face at the end of it all.

Believe it or not though, I found standing in front of 30 equivocal faces in the classroom far more taxing than performing to a plane full of passengers. It takes more than free alcohol and headsets to impress this audience.

I have some great memories from my time in the sky. However, I am certain that a career change was the right thing for me. I finally feel that I am contributing to society and my role has purpose and meaning. Being part of a cabin crew was an experience that I will never forget, but it can't even come close to the satisfaction of delivering my first lesson.

Jenny Brierley is taking a PGCE at Liverpool Hope University.

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