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Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 00:00 GMT
Heading out of the classroom
After six years teaching Spanish and French at a comprehensive in West Yorkshire, Claire Owens gave up the profession to study for a postgraduate diploma in journalism.

In a personal account for BBC News Online, she explains why.

I finally made the leap from teaching back to studying at the end of December 2001 after plotting my escape for some time.

I started to realise after two years that it wasn't a job I would do forever, and after three, I was looking at other career options in earnest.

Claire Owens
Claire Owens: No regrets
The energy required to teach groups of up to thirty pupils - one after another after another - on a daily basis was exhausting; plus the marking, the student performance tracking, the preparation.

By Friday I used to feel like I could have been sent home in a body bag and even the weekend was marred by those four, excruciating words: That Sunday Night Feeling.

There were moments of elation that made all the hard work worthwhile.

One pupil who had severe learning difficulties once gave such a brilliant performance in a French speaking test that I almost cried with pride.

Even just sharing a few terrible jokes with a group of kids could uplift me for the rest of the day.

Heads want to provide good quality teachers
The education career ladder did not appeal, though, so I did not apply for promotion.

I spent enough time already on schoolwork outside of the classroom - I did not want to take on more of the same just to be seen to be progressing, for minimal (if any) protected free periods, and a paltry pay rise which did not reflect the amount of work involved.

There were school responsibilities available, but if I was going to apply for any of them it was going to be something about which I could feel passionate.

At last, my moment of enlightenment came when I heard on the staff room grapevine that the publicity officer role was coming up for grabs.

I knew immediately that it was the way forward for me, and I was really grateful for the opportunity to broaden my horizons.

I don't regret going into teaching and do not rule out ever returning to the classroom

I loved this new dimension to my job, and it was the first step towards a career in journalism.

After about eight months, I identified the course that I wanted to do and soon had handed in my notice. I did feel twinges of upset when my successor was appointed (how could I leave my pupils in someone else's hands?).

Funny, though, after all the procrastinating over what my future career would hold, since I made that decision I have never had a single moment of doubt about whether I am doing the right thing.

I don't regret going into teaching and do not rule out ever returning to the classroom.

Strange and liberating

I was lucky because most of the pupils I worked with were great fun and I know that, as I embrace a new career working mainly with other adults, I will miss them a lot.

The journalism course is exactly what I was looking for and the future is now exciting.

I value my freedom from bells dictating when to eat, drink and go to the loo.

I even love the hustle and bustle of making my trip through London on trains and tubes instead of wending my way through country roads against the traffic of Leeds' commuters.

It is strange and liberating to have made the journey back to the other side of the desk, but I'm definitely on my way to where I want to be.

See also:

24 Jan 02 | Education
Teacher shortage 'has worsened'
01 Feb 02 | Education
Teachers score well on happiness
28 Aug 01 | Education
Teacher shortages worst for decades
30 Aug 01 | Education
Teacher crisis 'long-term problem'
28 Aug 01 | Education
Where are all the teachers?
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