I want my students to do well and I’m competitive about it

Careers in education: Rosamund Bradbury was a British international rower who competed at the World Championships, World Under-23 Championships, and European Championships. She is now a maths teacher at the British School in the Netherlands.

Straight after I finished as a rower, in 2016, I went into a role in road planning for an international company. My degree was in maths, so doing something around numbers and models seemed obvious – but straight away I realised this wasn’t for me. It was repetitive and there seemed little energy or will to improve what we were doing. Every day was the same and I felt like if I did a really, really good job or if I just did the minimum, no one cared.

I’d done some private tutoring to earn some money alongside my rowing career, I’d loved it and had some great results with young people from local schools. Hence moving into teaching.

My teaching career started with a rowing school

My first job was at Hampton School, a boys-only selective school, and a well-known rowing school with a base on the Thames at Molesey. I was new to teaching – I didn’t have a PGCE, they put me through one part-time whilst I was there. I wanted to join a rowing school so that whilst the teaching was new to me, there was an aspect of the school that I could get involved in and I knew a lot about, and could be good at.

In my current school, the British School in the Netherlands, the kids didn’t know about my rowing, but now they’ve all Googled me they ask about it. They find it cool and want to know about it. I think it’s good that they know – it shows them that women can do sport to a high level and have a career afterwards.

In teaching you genuinely do feel like you’re making a difference. It’s a bit like rowing, when you have to be on the top of your game all the time, because most of what you do is judged. You can’t hide if you’re having a bad day, in sport. In teaching, you have to strive to be the very best all the time because otherwise the kids will pick you up on it; but also it’s their future that matters. If you do a better job and they achieve higher grades, that could completely change their life. And I’m responsible for that.

I moved to the Netherlands last year for this job, partly for the life experience – which is a great aspect of teaching as a job. The holidays are long and you can teach anywhere in the world – you will never be out of work! if you’re interested in going further afield, there are schools in the Middle East and Asia that pay extremely well, provide all accommodation, and are desperate for British teachers.

The job security

Also, a draw for me was that teaching has a very high degree of security. Having done rowing, where you’re never sure year to year about funding and selection, it is nice to know that even if the school closes, I can go somewhere else. I’ll always have a job – particularly teaching maths. Careers in education have a high degree of job security.

The biggest thing I’ve taken from the rowing boat to the classroom is that I’m competitive. I’m competitive now about my students. I want them to be better than all the other classes and I want them to be better than other people think they can be. If I know that they’re supposed to get a grade seven at GCSE, then I want them to get a grade eight. I want them to do really well and I really care about it. It enables me to channel my competitiveness, which is important in life after sport!

Sport forces you to be confident in yourself

Doing sport internationally also forces you to be confident. Because I hadn’t done teacher training first, I went straight into a school and taught as an unqualified teacher. You do much scarier things in rowing than standing in front of pupils. Speaking to other teachers who came in unqualified, as I did, they found it much more daunting.

I really enjoy my career in education. Not every day, and sometimes it’s hard and sometimes there’s lots and lots of work; but you do feel like you’re making a real difference. You’ll make a breakthrough with a kid or you’ll have one of the top students and you’ll do something really exciting, and you can see how excited that it’s made them. I also like the fact the school year has a rhythm to it, again much like rowing where you are building up to various points throughout the year then peaking with the World Championships in August. In school, there are exam periods where you’re flat out, then there are times it’s more relaxed and you can get to know the students more. My life after sport does mirror my life within sport.