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A tough course but still with plenty to sing and dance about

Romantic perceptions about primary teaching ignore the hard work and form-filling, says Mel Campbell, a newly qualified teacher at Milldene primary in Tiptree, Essex.

"Before the training, I was unaware of just how much hard work goes into a week's teaching," she said. "I didn't think teaching was going to be easy, but there is a general feeling out there that it is relatively straightforward and simple.

"A lot of people have an image in their mind of a friendly teacher interacting with the children but do not see the hours we spend at home on the computer, or tearing our hair out over lesson plans."

Ms Campbell, 29, formerly a singer and dancer, said the teaching practice element of her training was a good introduction to reality.

But she said the mentor she worked with at one of her three schools was appalling.

"She clearly had no interest in teaching, and there was no thought or creativity in her lessons," she said. "In her eyes, I could do nothing right. She had clearly not grasped the art of constructive criticism."

On the academic side of the course, Ms Campbell said that assessment was the main aspect that could be improved.

"I find it really hard to get my head round national curriculum levels,"

she said. "We were not well prepared for this - in fact, it was brushed over."

Even so, Ms Campbell has no regrets about becoming a teacher. She said her current school, where she did her third teaching practice, had been very supportive.

"I love my job," she said.

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