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Andy - Curriculum Manager in Physics and Electronics, The 6th Form College Farnborough

AndyTell us about your role now, what skills do you use every day?

I need an understanding of Physics just beyond A-level to be able to give context and answer student questions. I need inter-personal skills as teaching should be a two-way process with the students. If they don't relate to me I can't respond to them.

Sometimes it can be incredibly frustrating if a lesson hasn't gone to plan, but ultimately it is very satisfying to have enabled students to develop their understanding and enjoyment in my subject.

Why did you choose this career?

I started in an 11-18 year old school. I quit teaching after two and a half years and worked as a Science Technician in a Further Education College, doing some cover teaching, working with teachers to develop resources and informally observing lessons. I got back into teaching in sixth-form colleges. After 4 years I moved college to lead my own department.

You need to be in the right place at the right time. I wasn't best suited to teach 11-16 year olds, and the department I was in were mostly close to retirement. Working collaboratively, we prepare common lesson resources here and each has their own topics to manage. We tinker with them each year rather than rewriting it all. My advice to someone looking at going in to teaching is to get contacts in other schools or colleges if possible.

Why is teaching important to you?

I don't know what people do in office jobs. I'm not interested in selling things and I don't enjoy paperwork (there's a lot of that, but it's not the whole job).
I'm passionate about Physics and enjoy working with students who have an interest in the subject. I feel that I do make a difference, however small, in some of their lives - either sparking a passion for a subject, helping them towards a career or higher education, or just being someone to talk to during or after lessons. That's a big plus for the job.

What's the best thing about teaching?

In most recent years the best thing about my job has been on results day, thinking, ‘how amazing it is you got that grade' or 'they really deserved that grade' in a positive way. I taught one student for both Physics and Electronics A-level. He'd had a bad experience of Science at school, but had an interest in Astronomy. A few years later his Mum came in for an Open Evening just to thank me for inspiring him in Physics. He's now got his PhD in Physics.