Trainee teacher who went off sick turns up on TV
Staff at Caerleon Comprehensive wondered what had happened to PGCE student Rachel Rice, who had been on a placement teaching English and drama.
Four weeks ago, she went off sick from the school near Newport in south Wales, with a mystery virus.
The next time colleagues saw her she was on television, walking into the Big Brother house - one of the stars of the ninth Channel 4 series.
Ms Rice, 24, is one of two trainee teachers who are under the constant gaze of the cameras. The other is Dale Howard, 21.
Previously, the only teacher to appear on the programme was Lisa "Penny" Ellis, who lost her towel and exposed herself to the nation during the 2001 series, an incident that led her to lose her job at a private girls' school.
It is unclear how the employment prospects of Ms Rice and Mr Howard will be affected by their new-found celebrity.
Mr Howard, who is in the second year of a BA degree with qualified teacher status at key stages 2 and 3 in physical education, has already alarmed officials at Liverpool John Moores University, where he is studying, after telling housemates that he "didn't like kids". If his behaviour and comments are deemed inappropriate, he could face a fitness-to-practice panel.
"We are keeping an eye on him," a spokesman for the university said.
On his own official profile, Mr Howard admits that he is "desperate to be rich and famous and have girls screaming his name".
On the Big Brother website, another trainee teacher wrote: "Is he mad? I'm training and this is the last thing I would ever do. He will never get a job after this."
Ms Rice, 24, from Torfaen, near Newport, is believed to have a degree in English literature from Bristol's University of the West of England and has been studying for a PGCE in secondary English and drama at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. A spokeswoman said Ms Rice's course had not finished and was unable to say whether she would pass or fail.
"All we can say is Rachel is a very able student who has progressed well academically this year," the spokeswoman said.
The one teacher's touch on her application form to appear on Big Brother was that she decorated it with 98 smiley faces. If she returns to teaching in a comprehensive, male pupils will be delighted to find she was a Miss Wales runner-up in 2003 and voted one of the UK's 10 most fanciable girls in 2005 by More magazine.
Headteachers said the trainees' TV exposure could raise eyebrows at future job interviews. Mike Griffiths, head of Northampton School for Boys, said: "Going on Big Brother would not necessarily mean you didn't get a job, but I would have a concern about whether they could exercise the appropriate level of judgement to teach.
"It would depend on what they had done, and if they could survive the embarrassment of having been on it in front of their pupils.
"But you have to remember we already have people in the profession who have done bizarre things in their youth."