Turning down jobs

Thursday 10th July 2012

MADE the right decisions, of that I’m sure, but it’s intriguing, sometimes, to look back down the roads not taken.

On graduating, we stayed another year in Bristol.

Married, with an infant son, I pursued a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education – in Classics, with P.E. subsidiary – in order to find secure professional employment and respond responsibly to the summons of sudden grown-upedness.

It wasn’t much fun for a student used to regarding lectures as optional and tutors as forgiving older siblings. You were expected to turn up on time, pay attention, and show a willingness to learn. It was like being back at school. A lackadaisical approach to lesson preparation led to my nearly failing teaching practice.

From January onwards, we were urged to purchase the weekly Times Educational Supplement and scan the vacancies.

With comprehensives having largely replaced grammar/secondary modern schools, opportunities for Classicists were few and far between. I was being pulled, unwillingly, towards the private sector.

Three jobs came up, simultaneously, in Scotland. Invited to attend interviews for all of them, I was able to arrange these on consecutive days. It began to feel more like an expenses-paid, sight-seeing tour than any urgent quest for a signed contract.

The single-sex boarding schools in question were all very posh. Nobody seemed to mind my long hair or Sassenach tongue. All three posts came with good salaries and on-site family accommodation. I was rejected by the girls’ headmistress, but offered the job at both of the boys’ schools.

I hummed and ha’d: significant decisions requiring serious consideration, but no guarantee anything better would come along: a job is a job is a job.

With hindsight, arrogance probably played a part; or at least a sense of being able to submit a convincing application.

I turned down both. They sounded miffed. I ended up at a direct-grant grammar school in Blackpool, where I could also teach Drama.

The rest, as they say, is history.







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