Personally speaking - 'Avoid career decisions in February'

6th August 2010 at 01:00
Andrew Bethell taught in a secondary school in Hackney, east London, for 17 years before setting up an independent film-making company. Since 2006, he has been chief executive of Teachers TV, which is available exclusively online from August 31

Who has been your biggest influence?

As both a communicator and an educational thinker, I was hugely influenced by Ted Wragg. His programmes on Teachers TV are still an inspiration to me and a fitting tribute to a great man.

What is your career high so far?

Three careers: three highs. In the 1980s, creating a successful sixth form at Woodberry Down School when everyone said it couldn't work. Winning a Bafta and an Emmy for our BBC series The House in 1996 and taking on the top job at Teachers TV in 2006.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

As organiser of the summer fair, I decided it would be fun to get ex-pupil and world light middleweight champion Maurice Hope to pretend to spar with me. He didn't do "pretend". It took me a month to recover.

Which pupils are you most proud of?

I live half a mile from where I did most of my teaching so I always feel proud when ex-pupils recognise me in the street and introduce me to their grown-up children.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Never make an important career decision in February. Things always look better after the Easter holidays.

What is the most outrageous thing you have seen a colleague do?

On a school journey in a remote centre in Wales, my colleague decided to have a laugh by creeping up to the dormitory window in a Freddy Krueger mask - just after lights out. It took us five hours to get what we thought were a really tough bunch of lads to go to sleep.

What would you have been if you hadn't become a teacher?

I suppose I've already lived that choice. I was going to try television before I caught the teaching bug. After 17 years at the chalk face, television won me back. Now I have the best of both worlds.

What car do you drive?

A Renault Scenic. It's the only car that fits both me and my partner. I am 6ft 7in and she is not.

What is the worst excuse you've ever heard?

The best one came when I was teaching Karl Mbeki, who was late back after half term because he had been visiting his grandfather Govan in prison on Robben Island.

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