Sian Gaches, 21
University: Trinity College, Carmarthen – BA Primary education with qualified-teacher status
Job: Primary teacher (Foundation stage: ages 3-5 years) St. Matthew’s Primary School High Street Yiewsley Middlesex
Why nursery teaching?
You can really have an influence on a child at this age. I get a lot of job satisfaction from shaping their development, for instance seeing a child write their name for the first time.
"Get some experience, either in schools or possibly with youth groups. Remember you’ve got to really like children, you’ve got to have patience, be quite bubbly and have a good relationship with the class by being approachable."
Sian is one of a number of Newly Qualified Teachers who have found it harder to find primary teaching work over the past year. The number of NQTs qualifying rose to 30,780 in 2003-04, compared with 28,470 the previous year. And the number of people entering the profession has increased for the past five years. In non-shortage teaching areas, particularly at primary level, this is having an effect on the speed with which NQTs find permanent positions after graduation.
"It’s certainly not as easy as it was," says Sian. "I came to England to find work because in Wales there were fewer teaching jobs."
Sian feels she’d always know that she wanted to be a teacher: "I’d been lucky growing up and had some really good teachers who inspired me to go into the profession."
She says the three-year undergraduate course was quite intense and the workload was tough but classroom practice, which was included as part of the course, stood her in good stead for her first job.
At the moment, Sian is teaching the foundation or nursery level classes. "At this age you have a lot of input into helping them build their behaviours," she says. "It can be very satisfying to see the manners and discipline develop by the time they are ready to move on."
Teaching involves going through many of the basics such as colours, shapes and counting. "We use the Jolly Phonics programme to teach reading writing and spelling which involves singing a song to learn a letters. I sometimes find myself singing it on the way home, which can be embarrassing," admits Sian.
While nursery-level children don’t have as many exams as older children, the paperwork can be just as heavy. "There is always something to do," she explains. "You always need to be gathering evidence on the child’s progression and preparing what you will do the next day. When people think of teaching they think of holidays and days which finish at three o’clock. The earliest I’ve left school is 5pm and that’s an exception."
But she has no plans to change. "I love the unpredictability," she says. "You never know what the children are going to come up with."