30th May 2003 at 01:00
Name Alix Critchley

Age 23

Current post Newly qualified, teaching Year 1 at Balsall Common primary school, Solihull

I didn't want to do a job where I was sitting behind a desk or on a phone - I wanted to do something that was more hands-on.

I've always been working around children. I'd taught swimming and worked at summer camps, and at sports camps, so teaching was something I looked at and thought, "Yes, I think I'd like to do that". It wasn't one of those momentous decisions where I said, "Right, I'm going to teach". It just led that way.

I completed a four-year BA in art with qualified teacher status at Warwick University. I chose to teach primary because I've always worked with younger children. I love my subject and for a time I thought of teaching art at secondary level.

But I like the variety you get in a primary school, the fact that it's not just one subject - you have to know bits and bobs about everything, and it changes all the time. It's more exciting.

So far my NQT year has been fantastic. You come in every day and something will surprise you. It's been really enjoyable.

The best thing was probably the first time I looked at the children and felt they were my class, when I finally felt that they knew me and I knew them.

We were doing the Christmas play and all the classes did their own little spots. It made me feel proud of them, just getting up there and doing it.

And the quiet ones surprised me because they were so confident.

Starting your first term as an NQT is a big jump from university, because even in our fourth year we weren't doing a full workload. And with the extra paperwork that get added in here and there, after the first couple of weeks I was shattered.

More than anything, I love the feeling of knowing that I'm completely responsible for the children. As a trainee, if you aren't sure of something, you can always go to the class teacher. Suddenly, as a new teacher, you have to sort everything out yourself. But the support here from the other staff in my year group and my mentor has been fantastic.

University was very much geared towards teaching practices, and focused on trainees' final reports, which they forward to the schools when you get your job. It did prepare us to some extent, but not in terms of how much there actually is to do. I don't think they wanted to scare us.

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