Atomic collision of work and kids

June 23, 2006

Name : Linda Amrane-Cooper

Age : Almost 42

Job : Head of initial professional studies, a department within the faculty of education at Anglia Ruskin University. We train new teachers and provide training for teaching assistants.

Salary : About £42,000

Education and background : I studied theoretical chemical physics up to PhD level, then spent a few years researching atomic scattering theory and resonances in atomic collisions. We were looking at ways to speed up reactions by using metal surfaces to conduct the reactions on. I then trained to be a secondary school teacher and later moved into teacher training. I have taught in primary and secondary schools in the UK and Toronto, Canada, and have worked in museums education, including being the first science education officer at the British Museum.

Working hours and conditions : My contract states 37 hours, but I work between 80 to 100 hours most weeks.

Number of students/staff : I manage 28 staff, and there are about 700 students in the department.

Biggest challenge/bugbear : Fitting my life into my job! With two small boys I have to be very efficient to ensure that I have some time with my children, partner, family and friends as well as a minute or two to myself.

Solution : I never waste (some might say relax for) a minute and I am always planning ahead.

Worst moment in university life : Trying to help students whose lives are very challenging. For example, we sometimes have students who become ill with cancer or other life-threatening diseases, and I am humbled by the way in which they continue to train and do their very best for the children with whom they work.

Your working space : I have a lovely office with a wonderful view across the river and parkland.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally? Students who are very angry about decisions that have been made, usually ones that involve them failing part of their course.

Best excuse for bad behaviour you have heard : I forgot to take my tablet.

Do you interact much with other university departments? There are three departments within the faculty of education, and we all work closely across the faculty. Work with other departments is limited more by lack of time than enthusiasm.

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