July 5, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 4:27 pm

I avoid writing posts that aren’t about food, but these last two weeks have created a rather interesting turning point in my life that I’d like to share with you, my fellow bloggers and foodie readers.

I’m not a superstitious person in any sense, but over the last two weeks it really has felt like the hand of fate has been working in my life. It all started when I handed in my last thesis draft. My supervisor apparently was off on a conference so it would be a while before he read it. Since it is the summer holidays I don’t have any students either, so I had a bit of time to put my feet up.

As I sat at my desk wondering what the hell to do with myself, an e-mail arrived in my inbox advertising positions to teach A-levels at various independent schools in and around London. From the tone of the e-mail, it sounded like they were after part-timers for sixth-form  and crammer colleges. Goon and I both agreed this sounded like the perfect way for me to keep myself in cash while I figured out what to do with my life. After all, I really like teaching and my current income from private tutoring is pretty unreliable.

So off went my C.V. and, a week later, I got a phone call saying that a school wanted to interview me. The HR lady on the other end of the line sounded quite excited about it. Apparently this was one of the best schools in London.

However,when I went into the agency the day before my interview, I was not amused at all. I had the following, very irritating conversation with the HR agent that had been in contact with the school.

ME:What do you mean, ‘I’ll be teaching year 7s’?! That e-mail you sent out was talking about A-Level!”

(For those of you who are unfamiliar with the British schooling system, year 7 is the first year of secondary school. The pupils are 11 years old and usually taught in groups of 20-30, whereas the e-mail had specified small classes of 16- 18 year olds.)

HR: Relax! But whatever you do, don’t let the school think you’re just applying to teach A-levels!
ME:But I WAS just applying to teach A-levels!
HR:You need to make them think you like teaching the younger children.
ME: I DO like teaching younger children but you can’t send me into an interview tomorrow when you’ve only just told me what the job is!
HR: Don’t worry. They’ll just get you to teach a class of year 7s for an hour or so tomorrow.
ME: WHAT!!? 
HR: It’ll be fun!

I really wanted to punch her at this point.

ME: I can’t just go in and spontaneously teach a class of 20 young children. I need time to think!! The job advertised on the e-mail is nothing like this!

Throughout  this conversation, Ms HR kept smiling cheerfully at me in the way only very persuasive HR types can. I was holding my head in my hands and scowling.

HR: You know, if you go in there looking all grumpy like that, you’ll never get the job!

I resisted the urge to bang my head against the desk. After a pep-talk that lasted an hour, I realised that there was no way I was getting out of this one.

So on a rainy Friday morning, I turned up at the school, rather fed up and pretty sure I didn’t even want to be applying for this job. I couldn’t have anticipated how things would change over that day.

Meeting the other members of the maths department, and in particular the very charming head of department, was almost enough to change my mind on its own. I’d never have expected to find a bunch of such talented and keen mathematicians teaching in a school. These are people with whom I could actually discuss advanced topics in my subject.

They weren’t mean enough to throw me in on my own with a class of year 7s,  but I did get to assist in one class. The kids were a nice, well disciplined bunch who were friendly and polite.

On the Monday I was invited back and this time I did teach a class after having the weekend to prepare. It was great! These kids were around 12 years old but were more enthusiastic and asked more intelligent questions than any undergraduate I’ve ever taught. I found myself wondering why I was considering teaching at higher level, when I was getting such a great response from these children.

The only downside* of the two day visit was the continous stream of phone calls from my HR ‘friend’ with more encouraging pep-talks. I’ll never understand how anyone can spend so much time saying so little. In fact she spent so much time on the phone to me, she singlehandedly drained my phone battery over the course of one afternoon.

Anyway, this week I was delighted to hear that the great school I visited has offered me the job and, although this has been so unexpected, I’ve decided to take it. So, as of September, I will no longer be a student but a full time maths teacher at Highgate School, one of the best schools in North London.  I am very excited and a little overwhelmed but luckily I have two months now to get used to the idea.

I have no idea how this will affect my blog. I guess there’ll be plenty to read during the holidays and just a few posts per week during term time. Then again, the school’s Head Master seemed to suggest I might do some extra-curricular cooking things with the students, so perhaps that will feature. We’ll find out in 8 weeks or so.

And, now that I’ve finished my excited rambling, we can get back to the more important topic of food. Tomorrow, I will take my promise of future earnings and go mad at Borough Market. In the meantime, below is a post about some monkfish I cooked on Sunday. Enjoy!

*Well, there was one other downside. School dinners still suck, even at a posh school like this one.


  1. Congratulations! It sounds like a great job that landed in your lap almost out of nowhere! And at least you won’t have to deal with any more crazy HR people!

    Comment by Alex — July 5, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  2. Ros, that’s fantastic. I think you’ll be a great teacher…look at how well you’ve done with goon ;)

    Comment by Vanessa — July 5, 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  3. congratulations ros! steady employment in a position that you like is a great thing! i only hope that it doesn’t suck up all of your free time with planning and what not…we’ll miss you if you can’t find time to post frequently. mmm and all the marvelous game you cook.

    Comment by amanda — July 5, 2007 @ 8:57 pm

  4. Good Luck! My daughter is a teacher in the borough of Lambeth, she’s still alive! Her husband teaches at a school near the Elephant and Castle and he seems to be OKish!! You’ll be fine, just fine……..! (Especially if you’re doing posh).

    Comment by Margaret — July 6, 2007 @ 10:13 am

  5. Well done Ros! Serendipity at it’s best…

    Comment by Amanda (Little Foodies) — July 6, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  6. congrats Ros that is VERY fantastic! Well done I hope you really enjoy it and what the summer holds for you!


    Comment by Lauren — July 6, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  7. Congratulations on becoming a History teacher :-)

    Comment by Andy — July 8, 2007 @ 1:08 am

  8. Sorry I’ve been away and missed this, Ros. Congratulations! I know you’ve worked really hard and you really deserve a good start to “professional life”.

    When you said “moving to your part of the world”, I see now that you meant that in a vague geographical sense. In all other senses Hackney and Highgate are a universe apart. Like Shepherd’s Bush and Kensington. Or Elephant & Castle and Clapham. And as for the school… even with the invading yuppies there’s not much call for posh independent schools like this in ‘ackney.

    Highgate School has many famous alumni. One former captain of the Junior School Cricket First XI, a certain Master Philip Clive Roderick Tufnell, was expelled for consuming illegal substances at the crease (allegedly). Be careful!

    Comment by Trig — July 8, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  9. Congratulations! Fantastic news.

    Comment by schmoofaoof — July 8, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  10. Hi Alex. It did come pretty much out of nowhere. I seriously thought I’d be spending next year tutoring part time. And I’m SO glad that I’ll only have to write an e-mail to the HR types before I can quit dealing with them completely.

    Hi, Vanessa. It’s a shame I can’t use my Goon training skills much in the classroom. On my interview days I think I only saw one kid that could qualify as being Goonish.

    Hi Amanda. Well, technically the teaching day runs from 8:30am- 4pm and I’m only teaching 70% of the time. So I hope that will leave time for lesson planning and my favourite hobby. Anyhow, there’s always half terms, plus the 14 weeks of holidays. It’s a pretty good deal really.

    Hi Margaret. There was no way I’d do anything other than posh really. My Dad has told me enough horror stories to scare me off from the state schools. It’s comforting to know that your daughter and her husband aren’t finding it too horrific though!

    Hi Amanda. Serendipity is certainly one word forit! I’m still quite freaked out at how neatly this all fell into place. If it wasn’t for the fact I have to pay double rent for a couple of weeks, this situation would be perfect.

    Hi Lauren. Thanks! I have been meaning to get in touch with you for ages! I’ll write you an e-mail soon. Unfortunately the summer holds not much for me at all since Goon can’t get much time off work and my supervisor seems to be taking an age to read this thesis draft. Hopefully I’ll manage a week’s holiday somewhere.

    Hi Trig. I’m actually moving to Highbury, which I think is very close to your area (in a geographical sense). It’s true that Highgate and Hackney are culturally very different but I hope that I can wander down at weekends to see the market you keep talking about and any other interesting things in the area. You’re right, the alumni list is pretty impressive. I’m not a sports fan so Phil Tufnell’s name didn’t jump out at me but I was impressed to see Clive Sinclair and John Rutter on the list.

    Thanks, Schmoof. Lets hope the kids are nice to me!

    Comment by ros — July 9, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

  11. Highgate eh, very posh! Congratulations on getting the job, albeit through somewhat unusual circumstances. I’m just trying to picture you teaching at my troublesome old secondary, Kingsland School (I don’t know if you know anything about the place, you probably wouldn’t want to). I should say the former Kingsland however, because after miserably failing OFSTED it was doomed to the bulldozers, and is in the process of being transformed into the bright new Petchey Academy, to open this September.

    Comment by Trig — July 9, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

  12. Wow, all sounds very exciting…

    but, teenagers are so immature…


    Comment by Simon — July 11, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  13. Hi Simon. That’s why I’m glad I’ve got 75% A-Level teaching to begin with, although the yuear 8s I taught were very sweet and not at all ‘teenagerish.’ I guess it should be the year 10s and 11s I should watch out for! Anyway, how’s China? Found any cats to eat yet? :p

    Comment by ros — July 12, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

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