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Driving a Career Change

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Sue Lewin_HCJS Head Teacher
Sue Lewin Driving
Sue Lewin 03

The school summer holidays have recently begun, and it hardly seems possible that the new head teacher of Haddenham Community Junior School has been in post for a full year already. Sue Lewin, the previous head teacher, elected to change careers after helping the school to achieve an OFSTED 'Good' rating in 2016, and we caught up with her very recently to see how she is progressing her new chapter in life. Here's what she had to tell us.

It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I left my secure job as Headteacher of Haddenham Community Junior School a year ago to walk into the unknown as a self-employed driving instructor. "Well", I thought: if I had been a police traffic officer trained to drive to a high level, and then a teacher for over twenty years, surely I could teach people to drive! Over the last two years I trained for and took the three tests needed to be an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor).

In January 2017, after a rather lovely six months 'holiday' I started off with my very first pupil, the daughter of a friend. Admittedly the first couple of months were lean but I am now regularly trying to slot new pupils into my increasingly crowded diary.

Many of my pupils are ex HCJS pupils and it has been great seeing that those children I waved off towards the new world of secondary education six years ago have become well rounded young adults. They are all fully versed in current affairs and I enjoy discussing everything from politics to music with them.

There have been several times in the last six months when I have appreciated my dual controls. It's fascinating to see how some pupils seem to pick up driving skills quickly while others draw on all my reserves of patience and nerves of steel!

No day is the same and all pupils need slightly different approaches. Apart from my bulk of 17 year olds I have taught a nervous university professor, a lovely lady in her late 70's who wanted a refresher lesson having moved to the area, and a lady who, although having had a licence for nearly 20 years, was 'dual carriageway phobic'. That's been interesting!

Although I've always been proud of my communication skills, I have learnt that some pupils need a very literal instruction. I really don't want a repeat of the incident where I asked a pupil to turn right at the roundabout and she turned right onto the roundabout and tried to go the wrong way round! A bit of steering wheel grabbing by me put us back on the right track!

Regrets? Not really. I get to sleep past 6am, don't have to be in the office before 8am and once a month get a long weekend away! Loving it!

Down side? Washing the car two or three times a week in the winter can be a drag, and sometimes I come home a nervous wreck but all in all loving the change of career.

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