A career change to make a difference

Claire Johnson, physics teacher

Claire Johnson, physics teacher

Claire trained towards qualified teacher status including a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) through The Arthur Terry School after spending her 20s travelling and trying out different careers.

This included working in HR for five years while also undertaking a part-time degree in physical science through The Open University. After achieving a first, she looked for opportunities to put her top-class degree to good use.

Being a mum, I realised that education in this country was more important to me than ever.

As a professional with a regular income, the financial support that’s available to trainee physics teachers made the option of re-training seem not only viable, but attractive. “Whilst on maternity leave, I saw the advert for the teacher training at Arthur Terry and saw that with my degree I’d even get a bursary,” she explains. 

Claire didn’t exactly match her idea of a ‘typical’ physics teacher, but that wasn’t about to stop her.

“I wouldn’t say I look like your stereotypical physics teacher and I probably don’t act like one,” she laughs. “I have bleach blonde hair and I’m a single mum for a start – I’m definitely not a middle-aged man with a beard.”

But her responsibility as a parent was among the factors that encouraged Claire to make the switch into teaching.

“Being a mum, I realised that education in this country was more important to me than ever,” she explains. “Working with young people and helping them to understand the world around them is massively rewarding. I love that I can be creative, manage my own classroom and make science fun – which is, after all, the first step in getting students to learn.” She adds that her choice of career has also made a difference to her and her family’s life: “I now have job security, opportunities for quick progression, new skills and a postgraduate qualification. Not to mention the new car that isn’t falling apart, a well-deserved holiday booked, paid-off credit cards and a little put away for a rainy day.”