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OEs Join Eltham College Teaching Staff

Tuesday, 6 September, 2016 -- Helen Wilson

Four OEs have joined the teaching staff at Eltham College. We spoke to them about why they have returned to the College. Ajit Hindocha is Head of Physics, Becky Bevington nee Clegg (2003) joined the Mathematics department, Jamie Owen (2000) is and English teacher and Head of Academic Scholarship, and Helen Reed (2006) is a General Studies teacher in the Junior School.  

Where did you go after Eltham College?

AH: I left Eltham after Year 11 in 2003 (not my choice!) to go to St Olave’s for 6th form. I then went on to study Physics at Loughborough University.

BB: I went to Nottingham University to do a degree in Physics with Astronomy and then I stayed there to do my PGCE.

JO: I went to St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge to study English Literature. It was a tough experience in terms of workload and deadlines but I now miss the libraries a great deal!

HR: I studied Geography at The University of Bristol. Then I spent a year working in different Media roles in London. Once I decided to be a teacher I completed my PGCE at The University of Greenwich.

Why did you decide to be a teacher?

AH: I’ve always enjoyed Physics and wanted to continue working in the field but I knew that I didn’t want to work in an office or go into research. I also enjoy discussing and explaining Physical concepts and working with people so it felt like a natural path for me. It always seemed like a fun job, and there are some definite perks – school trips and still having school holidays spring to mind!

BB: I'm not quite sure when I decided I wanted to be a teacher but I think it was when I was at University. I knew I didn't want to work in an office and do the same thing every day and that I wanted to work with people/children so I decided to do a PGCE and 10 years later I'm still teaching!

JO: It was not something I ever planned. In fact, it was a somewhat begrudging last resort when other avenues I explored after graduation hadn’t worked. I was resistant to the idea and my PGCE training year was very tough and I doubted whether I would have a future in teaching. However, I finished the training and once I found a job in a school that suited me I absolutely loved it and have never looked back.

HR: I decided to be a teacher when I realised that working in an office was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Teaching is a job where every day is different. I wanted a job where I could do all the things I enjoy – be creative, be active, work with people of different ages, continue to learn etc. I love the variety of subjects/ clubs I get to teach but most importantly I like the responsibility that a teacher is given so early on in their profession.

What was your dream job when you were at Eltham College?

AH: Definitely an astronaut or a pilot. I would still like to do one of those one day!

BB: I really don't think I had one! But I know that when I filled in my year book I had a boyfriend at the time who was very much in to wrestling so I think I saw myself being a wrestling wife...oh how things have changed!

What was your most memorable moment as an Eltham College student?

AH: Setting alight to the gas taps in Dr Bligh’s lessons was always good fun. Not that I would condone this behaviour now. The trips we went on were also great, especially the trip to Salamanca and Mont St Michel on the French Exchange trip.

JO: I once scored the winning goal in House Football, poking out a right leg to get on the end of a corner and score for Chalmers against Livingstone. I was not particularly good at football and was only ever used as a bit-part substitute, so it felt very much a rags-to-riches story for me.

HR: The Geology/ Geography trip to Iceland with Mr McCartney.

What’s it like being in the Common Room?

AH: Initially, it was very strange. I’m not sure what I expected to be behind the door as a pupil really, but it’s just where I go to for a coffee or empty my pigeon hole now. Not as glamourous as people might think!

BB: It doesn't actually feel that strange!

JO: Initially strange but I am getting used to it. To be honest, it is less weird than inhabiting other parts of the school that I used to know very well, since I have no childhood memories of it. We were allowed in the common room on one occasion though: every 6th former looked forward to a one-off invitation to drink sherry with the staff before attending formal dinner.

Are any of your teachers still around?

BB: Yes, a few - Mr Howls, Mr Watts, Mr Cheshire, Mr Pringle, Mr McGrahan...I'm sure there's a few more!

JO: Yes, probably around a dozen, although few who taught or remember me. Mr Grinstead and Mr Beattie taught me and Mr Thomas was my form tutor in Year 8; many staff have officially left but are still in school fairly regularly, such as Mr Barron and Mrs Galloway!

HR: I was taught Geography by Mr Cotterill and Mr Beattie. Mr Bacon supported me with my A-level D&T project.

What was the most surprising difference for you working at the school vs being a student at the school?

AH: It is obviously very different being on the other side, but I am pleasantly surprised at how respectful the pupils are. Holding doors open for teachers and being engaged with what they are learning makes it a pleasure to teach here. The other thing I’m (less pleasantly) surprised about is that the temporary hut, that was once my form room, is still here 13 years on…Although, I believe this is its last year before it’s finally removed!

BB: I haven't actually found there to be that many differences. When I was in the sixth form we were treated as adults and with respect and therefore the transition to being a teacher and 'on the other side' has been quite easy. I had a good relationship with the staff when I was at Eltham and therefore being their colleague now has been very straightforward!

JO: Technology! It feels strange still seeing so many boys glued to their phones in break times and lunchtimes. Mobile phones were just becoming commonplace when I was in 6th form in the late 90s but I don’t remember anybody ever having one in school. And there were no interactive whiteboards back then; even standard ones felt fairly innovative!

HR: As I work in the Junior School, it’s very different because I didn’t have any involvement in the Junior School whilst in the Sixth Form. Also I now get to see what goes on behind the scenes. I would say that there are more similarities than differences. The school is still as friendly and welcoming as it was when I was here, there are still so many different opportunities on offer for the children and the school buildings and grounds are just as impressive. 

Ajit, Becky, Jamie and Helen join former pupils Peter Swaffield (1972), Will Schaper (1993), Amanda Carey nee Wicks (1992), Peter Cheshire (1976) and Peter Howls (1998) on the teaching staff at the College and Katie Gleeson (2003) who is part of the College Enrichment team.