Drama without the crisis

14th November 2003 at 00:00
My classroom's like a small theatre," says Charlie Bovill, NQT English and drama teacher at The Downs school in Berkshire. If that's so, it's because she loves using her dramatic skills to challenge her pupils and to bring her lessons to life. She's a teacher first and a performer second.

Charlie worked for an independent television news company, producing globally-distributed footage for PR and advertising. Financially well rewarded for her responsibilities and for the pressure of the work, she enjoyed the glamour of mixing with celebrities and the buzz of being involved with the news as it was being made and reported. She also acquired useful editorial skills and technical insights.

Why leave all that behind? Because the whole rushing, exciting, money-making media world came to feel mundane and boring, giving her no sense of belonging. She was part of a small team, mostly of freelancers.

People would suddenly disappear. "It was like being in the Big Brother house," she says.

Add to that the pressures of living and working in London - the anonymity and alienation of the Underground - and one can see why she made a brief excursion into the world of charity fundraising before deciding that she wanted to teach. The turning point for her was listening to a taped lecture on "Wuthering Heights" and thinking: "I miss all this."

Charlie's background in theatre and dance led her to read English literature and theatre arts BA at Roehampton universit. It proviced one source of her considerable confidence, and prepared her for English teaching, though she admits to having to make a special effort with language work.

She did her PGCE training at Westminster Institute of Education at Oxford Brookes, valuing the support, particularly that offered by her peers, but was happiest when she began to work in her own classroom. A-level media and psychology teachers pounced on her media experience and made her a "guest lecturer". She had something to say from the "real world".

Now she's in a good school and has no regrets. It's a young staffroom.

She loves the honesty of pupils' reactions. "You can't front things out, like in the media," she says. She also enjoys building relationships with parents. She's learned from business that one of the keys to success is meticulous personal organisation, and carries that into her teaching, along with the authority that having done a tough job generates for her.

Her biggest problem? "My feet hurt - I can't wear nice shoes."

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