Cricketer pitches for new career in the school lab

30th November 2007 at 00:00
A professional cricketer is swapping his cricket whites for a lab coat and training to become a chemistry teacher. Opening batsman Richard Montgomerie, 36, won the County Championship as a member of Sussex County this summer, last year and in 2003.

But he retired in September after 18 years of playing the sport professionally and a summer in which he scored 195 runs against Warwickshire in a single innings.

He began taking steps to teach chemistry and combined sciences two years ago, starting a PGCE with the Open University and studying from CD-Roms and books during the winters. He is now halfway through his second work placement at Warden Park School in Cuckfield, West Sussex.

Mr Montgomerie gained a chemistry degree from Oxford in 1994. But the sportsman, whose teammates include the England wicket keeper, Matt Prior, says he is under no delusion teaching will be easy.

"It will be a big challenge," he said. "You have to keep thinking throughout the day, and it's never-ending what you can do, taking work home.

"Over a four-day game of cricket, you get a chance to switch off, both off the pitch and sometimes while you are on it."

He has already joined the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in preparation for his NQT year.

Mr Montgomerie said that although his cricket experience may not prove directly useful in the chemistry lab, it may help him instil a love of teamwork into his pupils and colleagues. He also plans to coach promising young cricketers through after-school sessions.

Although his career move may seem unlikely, Mr Montgomerie comes from a family of teachers. His father was a classics teacher at Rugby School, his sister used to be an economics teacher and his wife, Fran, teaches geography to adults at Portslade College in Brighton.

Mr Montgomerie's decision to teach chemisty looks canny in the current jobs market and he is already looking at job offers. Only 465 people were accepted to train on university-based PGCE chemistry routes this year, compared with 831 in biology. A dearth of specialist staff, seen as the key to increasing the subject's popularity at A-level and university, has prompted numerous training and incentive schemes. Teachers who train to specialise in chemistry qualify for pound;9,000 tax-free training bursaries and pound;5,000 golden hellos.

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