|20 Nov 2020|
What did you do before Prior’s Field?
I studied Mathematics, the only subject I’d ever have considered, at Trinity, Cambridge. A rather boring two weeks work experience put me off my original plans of working in finance so, given I’d spent a lot of time teaching my teddies as a child, I did a PGCE in Bristol and became a teacher. I very nearly didn’t get a place as one of the tutors thought that I would be completely unable to explain concepts to children who didn’t find maths easy. However, fortunately, the other had faith in me and I graduated from there in 1995.
My first two posts were at a large Comprehensive, followed by a large independent boarding school. I saw the PF Head of Maths post advertised and applied immediately as I was looking to move to the area. I was interviewed by both Mrs McCallum as well as Mrs Dwyer, who had just been appointed to start the new academic year.
What were your first impressions of PF?
I started at PF in January 2000. I believe I was the first teacher to be employed at the school having taken GCSEs, and the youngest, aged 27, at the time. Mrs Dwyer advised me to tell them I was “nearly 30” in the hope that the department would accept my leadership more readily. As it was, Miss West and Mrs Sheldrake were both very accepting and we got along well. One of my first tasks was to clear the cupboards of some incredibly old exam papers, some of which were from before I was born, and to update the department’s textbooks which were also rather old.
What elements of Maths did you enjoy teaching?
I loved teaching Maths at PF and really enjoyed getting Further Maths firmly on the A-level options list. When I joined, there might or might not be one girl taking it and Mrs Fairbairn would come in to teach them. By the time I left we had a steady group of around four girls taking the subject each year. I had lots of great pupils and classes from top sets who were so keen, to GCSE retake groups who, to our surprise, managed to get B grades after struggling for Cs just a few months before.
Is there a stand-out memory for you?
Some of my memories include the amount of noise in the dining room on someone’s birthday when the whole room would pummel the table with their knives and forks; the boarders telling me not to eat certain things in the canteen as they were “leftovers from four days ago”, though I am sure they’d been stored safely; my bedroom having a sliding door by the bed that opened up to the next, unoccupied, room; ghost stories; and dressing up in the grey school skirt and jacket on mufti day, and having one of the older teachers confuse me for a student for a minute!
Out of school, initially, I threw myself into running a Korfball club in conjunction with Charterhouse at their sports hall. However, the boys were less keen than the PF girls, so this was not as successful as I had hoped. I entered the school into maths competitions and took groups to maths lectures and events. I took girls, along with other staff, to social events at various boys’ schools with a very memorable evening where one girl in my form, who shall remain nameless, got off the bus when we arrived, quite obviously already the worse for wear. We spent most of the evening making sure she was OK and arranged a waiting party of Mrs Dwyer and her parents when we got back.
Just over five years after I had joined the school, I left PF for the role of Director of Studies at The Royal School in 2004. I recall leaving my Fifth Form class, having taught them the whole GCSE syllabus in a bit of a rush to be sure it was finished before I left, and worrying about how they’d do in their exams. However, I needn’t have worried, as Yuri Yamamoto (OG 2001-2006) took charge of the maths support groups that she’d been helping with for a while and helped get them all through with great grades.
What have you done since leaving PF and do you keep up with any other teachers?
Since PF I have got married and had a wonderful daughter who is now at secondary school in a very similar school to how I remember PF. My work now is mostly out of the classroom, working as a private tutor which has given me great flexibility as a mother. I am still in contact with Mrs Harrington who has been a great help to me in my career as well as Mrs Harding.
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