There is no shame in saying the Leadership Development Programme is a challenge. But you never get away from the fact that you are part of something a lot bigger, and I'm loving it. When you have difficult days, it's good to be part of a network of people who have experienced or are experiencing those difficult days as well, and often just hearing a story from those people about their day and the difference they're making is a really positive thing.
The social life does take a hit, especially during the first couple of months while you're getting used to the sheer volume of work you have to do. It has been difficult at points. But the best part about being a primary-school teacher is that you get to build relationships with 30 brilliant children and really make an impact on them on such a broad spectrum of things. Yes, you develop their English skills, their maths skills, right down to their physical education and their IT skills, but you get to develop them as a person as well. That's a powerful thing to be able to say that you do on a day-to-day basis. The majority of parents do fantastic jobs with their children but there are some children who maybe don't have that stable home life, and to be a stable part of their lives for six or seven hours a day - I don't think there are many things more rewarding that that.
It's brilliant when you get to May time, when you've been teaching these children for close to a whole school year and you can look back in an exercise book at where they were at the start of the year to where they are now. The child who couldn't write three sentences in an hour at the start of the year but can now write you three paragraphs of fantastic sentences, or the child who couldn't do their five times table but can now lead the rest of the class in a five times table song are the real high points. One of the best parts is developing the whole child. When you see a child who struggled to build relationships but now has friendship groups within the class, for me, that's almost as important as the child who couldn't do the five times table but now can.
A lot of my friends were looking for jobs that paid the most money or that were based in London. I wanted something a bit different to that. I was looking for a challenge, something where I'd have a lot of responsibility and where I could make a difference. There's nothing greater than getting home from a day at school and being able to tell family or friends what you've done and why it's a worthwhile thing you're doing. That is a really positive thing to have in your life.