'It's the first job in a long time that I don't mind getting up for'

6th December 2002 at 00:00
Name Helen McDaid

Age 28

Current post Newly qualified, teaching nursery children at Parkwood primary school in the London borough of Hackney

Career to date?

I left school at 16 in the Republic of Ireland with no qualifications. I trained as a nursery nurse and came to England aged 19 to be a nanny. Then I decided to go to university, so I did GCSEs in maths and English. I took a degree in psychology and then a PGCE at the University of East London.

Why did you become a teacher?

I want to be an educational psychologist. While doing my degree I got into the developmental and educational side of it. I worked with special needs children while I was studying, and it was seeing other educational psychologists at work. They'd come to the school, or you'd see them lecturing, and it seemed a good career. You have to have a PGCE and have so many years' teaching experience, so that's why I'm here. I've wanted to work with very young children ever since my nursery nurse and nanny days. I prefer the very small ones; they're just starting to be independent and curious. At this age, you can make a big impact on their lives.

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

When the children who speak virtually no English start using your name. Until then, you spend the first few days just being looked at and they're not quite sure who you are.

And the worst?

Having a run-in with parents. None of your training prepares you for that; you have to be responsible because you're the teacher. Obviously, I have good support here, so I'm not on my own. But it does knock you back a little.

What do you like most about teaching?

The responsibility - especially after being a student, or working for someone else for so long. I know I'm working for the school, but I'm my own boss as well. It's the first job in a long time that I don't mind getting up for in the morning. I really look forward to coming here.

What is your dream job?

I absolutely love teaching and I never thought I would because I had no plans to be a teacher. I didn't know I would even like it. But I will pursue educational psychology. If I don't like it, I can come back to teaching.

Top tip?

Take detailed notes, keep every piece of paper, get as much experience as you can, and observe as much as possible. Collect resources from day one because you use everything under the sun. You throw away nothing as a teacher.

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