New face

27th June 2003 at 01:00
Name Andrea Clark. Age 25. Current post Newly qualified, teaching science at Hazelwick school, Crawley, West Sussex

I used to be a secretary at a London property company. I had a degree in human biology and after a year of working I got fed up with commuting and not having job satisfaction.

I loved doing my degree, and decided I wanted to pass my knowledge on to other people. When I saw an advertisement on television for teaching, I phoned up and was sent on a course. I loved it so much, I stayed and did a PGCE at the University of Sussex.

Teaching wasn't a job I'd immediately thought of doing when I left school.

I was at quite a tough comprehensive in Croydon, and I used to look at my secondary school teachers and think, "My God, how on earth can you do it?"

But I enjoyed my subject. I have quite a big family with lots of cousins who always needed help with their homework, and I was always keen to help.

I enjoyed passing on information, and I love children.

Teaching is at the opposite end of the spectrum from my previous job. That was quite stressful because I was doing lots of overtime and I was commuting, although I didn't have any work to take home with me. But here it's a constant learning curve. I enjoy it because it's challenging.

I wouldn't do anything else now. It is hard - the workload is immense, but I've got a good support network here. My mentor and head of department are both excellent and will take work away from me if they feel that I'm under too much pressure.

Every day I'm confronted by new challenges. Even if it's the same pupils I see, their behaviour can sometimes change completely, and that's what I love - nothing is ever the same every day.

I found teacher training relatively easy. Everyone talked about hitting the wall at Christmas but I never did. Because I'd had quite a high-pressure job before, and was used to working constantly, I thought thatgoing into my PGCE - back to university, teaching a bit, working and chilling out a little - was quite nice.

And this year I've come back into full-blown working. As a teacher it is easy to forget that most people do a nine-to-five day, and just because the kids finish at 3.30 you feel you should too. But you don't. That's a shock - especially for people who have come straight from university, but I was certainly more prepared.

Interview by Martin Whittaker

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