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18 September 2014
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Interview factsheet: 14 of 15 Francis O'Hare
Francis O'Hare
Job: Secondary school English teacher
Name: Francis O'Hare, Age: 32, From: Newry Quote  ‘Kids can smell fear off teachers!’
Francis O'Hare
Key Skills
5 out of 5Communication 3 out of 5Improving learning and ability
3 out of 5IT 4 out of 5Problem solving
5 out of 5Application of number 5 out of 5Working with others

The lowdown

I got a degree in English at Queens University and then went to the University of Ulster to do a PGCE in Secondary Education. The PGCE took one year and included six months teaching practice in local schools. Then I did some supply teaching for agencies, where you teach at schools that need temporary teachers. For a while I also worked as a care assistant in an old people’s home. After six months, I got a permanent teaching job in St. Louis Secondary School in Ballymena and I’ve been there for the past five years.

What you need

You need a degree in your subject area and a postgraduate teaching qualification - the PGCE is the recognised qualification in Northern Ireland. Most schools ask for some kind of teaching experience, but if you haven’t got that, they may hire you as an NQT (newly qualified teacher), mentored by an experienced teacher.

My typical day

I get up at 7.30am because I have a forty minute drive to my school. Once I arrive, I grab a quick coffee in the staffroom, check if I have any mail and then take my form class for registration. Classes start at 9.05am and each class lasts forty minutes. I get lunch at 12.05pm in the dining room and usually have free periods during the day to catch up on marking. I have more classes until 3.25pm and then I can go home, where I usually mark and prepare lessons for the next day.

Dress code

Fairly smart - usually a suit with a tie.

Cash register £££££

Salaries aren’t great at the beginning, but after a few years they do improve considerably.

Why I love my job

Working with young people makes my job lively and fun - it beats the tedium of a desk job any day.

Useful skills

Confidence, the ability to take charge of a classroom, good planning skills, excellent communication skills.

Cool perks

Cheap and cheerful lunch in the dining room every day, fantastic summer holidays and you get home early!

Spill the beans!

Your first time in front of a class of kids can feel nerve-wracking. You sometimes have to pretend to feel more authoritative than you actually are at the beginning, until you get confident. Remember, if you look calm and confident, kids will think you are. Kids can smell fear off teachers!

Top advice

You shouldn’t go into teaching thinking it’s an easy option. There’s a lot of hard work, some of it in the evenings and at weekends, so be prepared. Having said that, it’s a very rewarding career if you put the work in.


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