'I've taken a pay cut but I love what I'm doing now'

29th November 2002 at 00:00
Name Deborah Stainer

Age 33

Current post Newly qualified, teaching reception and Year 1 at Kingsbury Episcopi primary school near Martock, Somerset

Career to date?

After graduating from Manchester University I qualified as a town planner and worked in local government for almost 10 years, reaching a senior position with a lot of responsibility. I gave up last summer and took a PGCE at Bath Spa University.

Why did you become a teacher?

I thought of becoming a geography teacher when I was 18, but a relative was head of maths at a local school and took early retirement because of stress. That put me off. The desire to teach came back when I had my own children. There's so much satisfaction seeing why and how kids develop - and I want to be a part of that. I've taken a pay cut, but I love what I'm doing now; it's about what makes you happy, isn't it?

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

Working with this age group - I specialised in early years. And I feel so privileged to have a job in a lovely rural village primary school. The staff are friendly and supportive, and everyone gets on so well. I feel valued and confident. I don't think you could have a better start than that.

And the worst?

The few days leading up to my first parents' evening were pretty nerve-racking. Although I'd spent 10 years talking to people - quite aggressive people at times - in my previous job, nothing prepared me for the fear of what parents might say to me in those 10 minutes talking about their child. As it was, it went pretty well, but in the period leading up to it - that's when I maybe didn't sleep so well at night.

What do you like most about teaching?

Making a difference in children's lives. I've got children who are coming into school for the first time at four years old and I know I'm making a difference to them.

What is your dream job?

Having been in management in local government, I'm not sure I'd want to take on any big responsibility. But I would like to think that in a few years' time I would be co-ordinating one or two subjects. Perhaps I might also be acting as a mentor to an NQT or helping PGCE students on placements.

Top tip?

It's an incredibly demanding and tiring job. I worked long hours in my previous job but it didn't exhaust me as much as this does. There are no half measures with teaching. If you're not committed you're not doing the school or the pupils justice. And if you're not sure teaching is for you, it probably isn't.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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