We hear from the men and women at the front of the class about what inspired – and continues to inspire – them to take up teaching. Here’s the view from the staff room at Queen Victoria School

Sarah O’Neill

What motivated you to take up teaching?
I was motivated to teach as I loved History at school and also working with people. My Mum suggested teaching and from year 10 in school I knew that it was a good choice. I love working with pupils from all backgrounds, especially the challenging ones and love the insight their situations bring to the classroom, as well as the chaos.

What brought you to and keeps you at your school?
I visited Queen Victoria School while I was on my first placement at Newton Primary. We took a group of children up to use the sports facilities. I remember seeing the pupils as an outsider and loved the look and feel of the school. The pupils were so polite and friendly. They still are now I work here and I love the chats we have off topic in class, some of their lives are so interesting and varied compared to other children. As an Army Reservist I enjoyed the ethos encouraged at the school and had worked in state schools using the skills and resources of the military to engage children who struggled to engage with classroom education.  I realised the potential of having an integrated Army Cadet element to a school and really wanted to use this to engage pupils; Queen Victoria has this and more.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and its biggest challenge?
The most rewarding aspect is seeing the pupils on parades and grand day. They really step up to the occasion and their drill is outstanding.  I also love that my subject involves talking about military action in recent conflicts, I enjoy being able to relate this to pupils who are often very aware of how their parents were supporting this. The pupils often have brilliant stories to share and of course some have suffered directly in horrific ways. Having that knowledge and confidence to allow uncomfortable conversations to develop really demonstrates how pupils cope with grief and support each other through it, but it can challenge when trying to remain neutral and give both sides to the events.

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