10 questions with a primary school teacher

Julia Richards is an Assistant Deputy Head Teacher in a state primary school in Coventry. 

  1. How did you get into it?

I studied languages at university with the aim of joining international banking, and my degree took me all around travelling. After four years teaching English in Japan and travelling around Asia, I got my first ‘real’ teaching job in a London suburban secondary school, teaching French and German. I loved it and even had a place to study for a PGCE in London when my uncle stepped in and offered me a job in the commercial world. Roll on 18 years and successful careers working for Mars and Cadbury, I got fed up with the corporate world and quit to do my PGCE! 

2.          How many years have you been working in this job?

I have been working in this job for 8, recently I moved into my current role as Assistant Headteacher.

3.          What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the field?

Do something else first, it may seem surprising but actually teachers who actually have experience out there in the world have so much more to offer the children than those who went straight into teaching. Also get as much experience as you can working with children, the one thing I can say is you need to actually like children before becoming a teacher.

4.          What’s the best part of it?

Every day is different on the job, but I would say the best part is every day seeing the difference in people’s lives – whether that’s mentoring a young adult to become a teacher or a 10 year old finally understanding fractions.

5.          What’s the worst part of it?

An Ofsted visit, definitely.

6.          Most memorable day/ event at work? 

There are just too many to choose from day to day and year to year, every day is different. But I would say watching year 6 classes graduate and perform in their end of year production is definitely memorable. I also got to take four students to Japan four years ago just before the Olympics, most of whom hadn’t even been out of the country.

Teacher sitting at desk with elementary aged pupils, teaching STEM, development, role model

7.          Have you always wanted to do it?

Actually, I was very determined not to do it, my parents and other various family members were teachers from a young age, so I was sure I wasn’t going to be one, even though I loved nothing more than setting up “teddy school” in my bedroom.

      8.  Tell us about your first day at work?

I remember feeling incredibly nervous and a whole swirl of things going around my head. There are the children to think about and also the other teachers, and I remember wondering what to wear, and even would I be good enough?

      9.  Worst mistake you’ve made on the job, and what did it teach you?

There’s a whole host of lessons which looking back I would have taught differently but reflecting and adapting is a huge part of teaching. I would say one of the worst mistakes is spilling a glass of water on year 6 SATs papers – I am not going to lie the headteacher at the time wasn’t too happy and there was a lot of additional paperwork to do, so always drink from a water bottle!

     10.  How fulfilled are you? 

Incredibly, I love my job and the opportunities working in education has given me, but I firmly believe you get out what you put in. Work hard and take every opportunity offered and you grow as a person and in turn, will be fulfilled.

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