15th November 2002 at 00:00
'There's such a drive and motivation behind the staff'

Name Catherine Slade

Age 25

Current post Newly qualified, teaching English at Westfield school, Yeovil, Somerset

Career to date?

I didn't finish my A-levels at school. I'd chosen subjects that weren't right for me, so I left and became a trainee florist for six months. I fell pregnant and had a daughter at 19. Afterwards, I thought I'd go back and finish my English A-level at evening classes. I took a degree in English and history thena PGCE at Bath Spa University College.

Why did you become a teacher?

I'd thought about being a teacher when I was at school, but I don't think I was mature enough. The chap who taught me English A-level was a retired teacher - he was an inspiration. He encouraged me to have a go at a degree. When I went to university it all seemed to fit into place. The subject has always come naturally to me. I love the whole thing of communication, analysing, reading literature for literature's sake. It's so broad and varied - it can take you down all sorts of paths and subjects.

What's the best thing that's happened to you so far?

Seeing that the effort you've made has been worth it and that you've been rewarded for what you've done. I've had some fantastic Year 10 autobiography work in - I thought that was going to be a difficult topic at the start of GCSE, not having done it before, but their writing has been brilliant.

And the worst?

Behaviour can be difficult. It's a constant battle, but you don't give up. It's about getting to know the kids. You know which things set off certain children and you learn which ones not to clash with, how to manage them and how to defuse situations. And the paperwork - after training for a year and still having that idealism and optimism, you're prevented from working to the best of your abilities by a lot of paperwork. I don't think I'd really taken on board how much marking and planning there was.

What do you like most about teaching?

Belonging to a team, working as part of the whole institution and giving something back. There's such a drive and motivation behind the staff. It's amazing to see how hard people work for the kids.

What is your dream job?

It would be nice to think I could take on some more responsibility in the future. But at the moment, I'm looking to become more confident, to be good and effective at what I do.

Top tip?

You need to have perseverance, you need to learn to jump through hoops, you need to keep teaching files up to date, keep a copy of everything, be a magpie - just gather whatever you can from wherever you can.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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