I joined the Civil Service straight from university where I studied French. I loved my job.
I was involved in public policy and spent time working with politicians, which was fascinating. However, after a period of serious illness about ten years ago I did start to re-evaluate the direction my career was taking.
After a lot of soul-searching, I left my job and began an Open University degree in psychology. I began to do charity work as a trustee and a volunteer helping children with reading in primary schools. I also ran parenting classes for another charity.
Then I read an article by Lucy Kellaway, co-founder of Now Teach, about her decision to retrain and it reawakened a thought I had had for a long time about teaching. I made some initial enquiries, one thing led to another, and here I am.
When I read about Now Teach, everything clicked into place for me.
I like teenagers and I feel very passionately about the importance of education, especially for children from disadvantaged families.
I also enjoy explaining things and getting the best out of people. Latterly, my civil service job was all about coaching and developing people.
Now Teach demonstrated that someone wanted people like me as teachers, and it offered a structured way to train, and a network to belong to, which felt reassuring.
Now Teach is pitched at people who’ve had a career already so the age range of the students is about 40 to 60 years-old. I found the young people I trained alongside are very generous. Once you start the course, you’ve all got so much in common you forget about age.
In my first year, I was learning to manage a classroom and whilst some students are excited about learning French, others were quite daunted.
One student I had was very bothered about having to say words out loud in class and I finally got him to speak in the lesson. Afterwards he came up to me and said, ‘Miss, am I good at French?' I said ‘You are!’.
The fact he now believes he could do something that he couldn’t do before will have a knock-on effect on the rest of his life. You really do feel like you’re changing people’s lives and that’s very exciting.
To be doing something completely new when you’re in your fifties and having a whole new adventure is great.
What I really enjoy about the job is that the feedback I get is instant. With students, you know immediately if you’re teaching it in a way that they’re not understanding - and you can put it right.
The hardest thing about the job is behaviour management. Keeping the lid on low level disruption is hard work. The school has systems which work, and you have to trust in them and use them. But it is still hard work.
I have three children of my own and they have all been curious and supportive of my new career. My husband is fully behind it. As soon as I said it was something I was interested in he said, ‘It’s obvious! Of course you must do it!’
I’m far more resilient and less fearful than I was in my twenties and, as well as that, I have all that experience from my previous job which will be increasingly useful helpful and useful in my new career.