I hope it all goes well, but I expect we'll see you back as soon as you get your first dose of nits" was the light-hearted message my former employers left me with on my last day at work. I had been working as a marine ecologist for two years since leaving university (many hours staring down a microscope or bobbing around on the North Sea) and it was, most definitely, time for a change.
"But won't you miss the real science? You'll probably have to sing," said a slightly-bemused colleague at my announcement that I was about to begin primary teacher training. I gave one of my standard non-committal answers and carried on. I knew I'd made the right choice.
So last September I packed up my microscope and met the new team I'd be working with: Class 5. My days transformed from mind-numbing hours divided between microscopy and clock watching to a whirlwind of art, maths, creative writing, assemblies and all the other activities that are shoehorned into a "normal" day in a primary school. It is amazing, incredibly time-consuming, hard work. But it's the most satisfying and rewarding thing I have ever done.
And as for the science, well, a more enthusiastic bunch of research scientists would be difficult to find. There aren't many research institutions that start off an investigation by stating categorically that science is "wicked and awesome". They're a thorough bunch of investigators who leave no stone unturned, no test un-double-checked, in the quest for the perfect parachute, porridge topping or hedgehog nesting material. You couldn't want for a more dedicated team of individuals and it is my privilege to work with them.
So when I got the kind phone call checking if I was still enjoying myself (asking more specifically did I have nits and might I like to return to my microscope), I was more than pleased to report that I didn't have nits (any more) and yes, I was having a fabulous time. As for the science - well, I'm lucky enough to be working with some of the best scientific minds in the business. Their singing's not too bad either.
Kristel Stacey is on the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training course at Newport Community School in Devon.