Teacher audit

December 10, 2004

* Name:
Nicola Aries

* Age:
46

* Job:
Senior lecturer and assistant course director (admissions tutor and first-year tutor), Kingston University School of Law.

* Salary:
About halfway up the senior lecturer scale.

* Qualifications:
Bachelor of laws (Hons), MA in legal studies, PhD (suspended due to National Teaching Fellowship Award 2004), PGCE.

* Background:
I left school with one O level and a couple of CSEs and went into various jobs, such as care assistant and working in pubs and off-licences. I was held up in an armed robbery, which pushed me to focus on what I wanted out of life. I decided to attempt the impossible and qualify as a barrister because I was a great Rumpole fan. I persuaded Kingston to take me onto their LLB after completing a fast-track law A level. Following my LLB, I took the Bar Vocational Course during which I decided that I did not want to practise law and preferred academic life. I returned to Kingston as a research assistant and progressed to teaching. I have been employed by Kingston full-time since 2001.

* Hours spent on teaching:
I teach for approximately eight hours a week. Obviously preparation and marking are in addition to this.

* Hours spent on red tape:
I am admissions tutor and assistant course director with responsibility for the first year and the majority of my time each week is spent on administration for these roles. I think it must equate to about two days a week, but at "hot-spot" admissions times of the year, it is far more.

* Hours spent on research:
Not enough, but about eight a week. I spent more time on research when I was undertaking my PhD, but since I have been awarded the fellowship, I have had to suspend the doctorate to concentrate on spending the award of £50,000 on a learning and teaching project.

* Teaching bugbear:
Not enough space in the teaching rooms for the students we have recruited.

* How did you resolve this?
I can't, but I have tried to introduce a mentoring Blackboard site and more interaction on my subject discussion board.

* Worst teaching moment:
The death of a valued colleague.

* Best or funniest:
Winning the fellowship this year was the best. The funniest are the "howlers" by the students. For example, in answer to the question "What is devilled work" (it is work provided by a pupil barrister over and above their pupillage) the answer given was "a type of Creole cookery".

* My subject/teaching tip:
Expect the unexpected. Law students can be very surprising.

* Outside interests:
English detective fiction.

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