Look! No messing

13th May 2005 at 01:00
They eat, drink and sleep teaching in this student flat. Gail Robinson went to Bristol to find out how they manage the planning and the marking without going barking

Before you even cross the threshold, you know you're entering a flat belonging to student teachers. The notice on the kitchen door gives it away: "Those who can, do. Those who know better teach. Be a Teacher. It's great."

The flat is in chi-chi Clifton in Bristol, all grand Victorian buildings and a Mecca for the city's students. Sainsbury's Central is opposite, Borders is seconds away and there are restaurants and bars on the doorstep.

And the four PGCE students can see their faculty from the kitchen window.

There's Dawn (history), Imran (science), Pete (languages) and Jon (geography). This curriculum mix works. "If we all did the same subjects we'd drive each other mental," says Pete.

Jon is the manic cleaner. He's also passionate about his subject to a degree that borders on the geeky, say his flatmates.

Dawn is the messiest. She had stashed eight dirty glasses in her wardrobe before our visit. She has six ashtrays scattered around her room. "It's so I can smoke wherever I am."

Imran is the house cook. He can whip up a mean Sunday roast. "I find it therapeutic", he says. "It calms me down after school." He's also a secret stationery fetishist, and he has his own personal laminator.

Pete speaks French and Italian but, strangely, has found himself teaching Spanish in his placement school in Wales. He's quite posh and he admits the kids do occasionally poke fun at his posh accent.

The four might be surrounded by restaurants, bars and clubs but they haven't seen the inside of any of them. Dawn admits, "I have about two minutes in a 24-hour period when I'm not thinking about teaching."

The only RR they get is when they all come home after school, sit in the kitchen and watch Neighbours followed by The Simpsons. Then it's a bit of a chit-chat, something to eat and it's off to their bedrooms to plan the next day's lessons.

Where next?

Pete and Imran are the lucky ones: they'll both get Golden Hellos because they teach shortage subjects. But Pete is thinking of taking a year out first, leading a group of gap year students to The Gambia with a missionary organisation.

Finding a job is more urgent for Dawn because there are too many history teachers on the market. "I'm the only one who's panicking," she says. "I need to get a job. I have so much riding on this."

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