Degree: Maths and Computer Science at Oxford University PGCE at SCITTE LS (School Centred Initial Teacher Training in East London)
Job: Primary school teacher.
I teach children, from the ages of seven to 11 the core subjects and the foundation subjects as set out in the national curriculum. On a daily basis, this involves one hour each of maths (numeracy) and English (literacy), reading and then one or two foundation lessons i.e. science, history, physical education, geography, religious studies, and Information Technology.
Were you always interested in this area as a career?
Not at all. When I was growing up attending school, the last thing that I wanted to do was go back to a similar setting and teach. However, during university I spent some time working in an orphanage in India during the summer holidays and really enjoyed the time I spent interacting with the children. I started university with a vague idea of ending up in the city, most probably in the finance sector with my maths degree, but personally I changed a lot during my time there, and when I completed my degree I decided that I wanted to do something that was more people orientated.
How did you find out about this particular career?
It struck me during the year following university that I wanted to do something that was based around people and I enjoyed working with children so it was an obvious choice. I spoke to some friends who were teachers, my university careers department, and rang around a few universities that offered the PGCE (post graduate certificate in education) and was lucky enough to find one that had a space for the following year.
Have you ever experienced any racial prejudice in this sector? If so, how did you deal with it?
I have not experienced any racial discrimination in my line of work. Working in London in particular means that you are working with a diverse set of people. The classroom make up is also very diverse as there are children who have very mixed
What do you feel about your employer’s diversity policy in terms of your own circumstances?
I found my first year very tough indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot, but I found it hard to concentrate on my own development as a teacher as well as satisfying some of the bureaucratic demands of the job, and ultimately making sure the children got the best education. My head teacher suggested working with a lady named Viv Grant from Integrity Coaching. She had taken a break from the profession and as an ex-head was aware of the demands and strains facing teachers. I ended up going to coaching sessions once a week in which Viv would support me in breaking down the demands of the job, and defining achievable targets that I could concentrate on. It sounds simple, but the power of it lay in the fact that I had someone there guiding me through the process. It really helped in the long run and I still use the techniques today.
What do you like most about your job?
It is a bit of a cliché but the time spent with the children can be very rewarding. You know if you’re doing a good job instantly from their reactions and how well they understand a concept. I want to make sure that the children enjoy themselves at school and progress in their work to give them the tools for the best possible future.
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you do?
You need to be extremely patient when working with children. You need to be decisive when managing their behaviour and creative when thinking of ways to deliver a lesson. You also need to have a good sense of humour!