New face

20th June 2003 at 01:00
Name Dr Emma Green. Age 34. Current post Newly qualified, teaching science at Prince William school, Oundle, Northamptonshire

I had thought about teaching while doing my degree, but my mother is a teacher and she put me off. She said teaching is something you can go into later in life, once you've seen a bit of the outside world.

After finishing my degree in biology at Southampton University, I completed a PhD at Imperial College in London. I then worked at the Department of the Environment, looking at risk assessments for the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, and developing and implementing policy on air quality and human health.

Then I joined the Medical Research Council, working on aspects of the environment and human health, and running research projects with government departments.

After six years, I'd gone as high as I could within the organisation and faced a decision - change jobs within that profession or give teaching a go. I decided it was time to take the risk. I did my initial teacher training at Homerton College, Cambridge.

I always saw this as a risk and I've taken a big pay cut but, fortunately, I had the financial support at home. And with my previous skills, I do want to go up through teaching into a management position.

I decided to teach because I love science - I love the way things work, and I wanted to inspire kids about it. It's about sparking an interest in them, about how the world works.

And nowadays, with all the big issues in the news, such as genetically modified organisms and cloning, it's important that people are able to formulate their own views.

My NQT year is going well. There are the usual ups and downs of teaching.

It can be rewarding, but you do need a lot of stamina - you're getting up and putting on five shows a day, as well as doing all the other things such as reports and parents' evenings.

My previous career has been invaluable in my new one. The school is a rarefied environment, so having been in the outside world, seen what that sort of work is like, seen what kind of skills employers want, has given me a lot of confidence. And I draw on it in school - I can talk about things I've done, especially at A-level.

We have a new head of department and we're putting in lots of new ideas and systems - I've been able to take on responsibility for some of those. And having done what I've done before has made some of these challenges much easier.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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