'Promising' Rachel Rice swaps teaching practice for the Big Brother house
The headteacher of a Welsh school where Big Brother contestant Rachel Rice has been training, this week claimed she had the makings of a promising teacher.
Dr Adrian Davies, head of Caerleon Comprehensive in Newport, said Miss Rice was a friendly person who had forged good relationships with staff and pupils.
"She has the potential to be a very good teacher," he said.
Teachers at Caerleon were said to be shocked when the trainee appeared on the hit Channel 4 reality show after apparently being "sick" with a virus for three weeks.
Dubbed a "pint-sized motormouth" by presenter Davina McCall, Miss Rice had been teaching English and drama at the school for three months.
The 24-year-old model and former actress has been studying for a postgraduate certificate in education at the University of Wales Institute of Cardiff.
Dr Davies, who claims not to watch Big Brother, admitted: "Once I heard that she was on it, I had a look. Like me, very few of the staff here watch the programme. But I'm sure some of the older pupils like the fact that she is on it."
As for qualifying, Dr Davies said: "She won't have fulfilled the requirement for Qualified Teacher Status, so I don't know whether she will be able to repeat just the part of the year she has missed."
However, education expert Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said that choosing to take part in the show raised questions about Ms Rice's professional commitment.
"She is going to be made to look an idiot, but she probably takes the view that all publicity is good and is hoping her appearance will either lead to more media work or give her an attractive notoriety in the classroom," he said.
David Evans, NUT Cymru secretary, said: "Being on a reality TV show shouldn't bar Ms Rice from teaching. But if she does anything that is deemed to bring the profession into disrepute, then schools will not want to hire her."
Miss Rice, who starred in a film with British actor Hugh Grant as an eight-year-old, said she had joined the house to represent "pretty, intelligent alpha females".