Nicola Critchley graduated from the University of Wolverhampton in 1992. Having spent part of her degree course in New Hampshire, USA, she was then inspired to spend some months travelling around the USA. After obtaining a PGCE in English and Drama from Bretton Hall (University of Leeds) in 1994, Nicola taught at a high school and sixth form college in Nottingham.
Since 1998, Nicola has taught students aged 11 – 18 at British schools in Madrid and Malaga. She has prepared students for IGCSE English Language and Literature examinations, Advanced Level English Literature and English Language and Literature, and Cambridge First Certificate in English, Advanced, Proficiency and Proficiency in Literature.
In her spare time, Nicola enjoys visiting different parts of Spain with her Madrileñan husband and their two children, here are a few more answers to the questions we asked her:
How did you get into teaching?
I always wanted to become a teacher although journalism and publishing also appealed to me. I took a gap year before applying for a PGCE in English and Drama as I wanted to be sure I was choosing the right path.
Tell us a little about your time as a teacher?
I spent three years teaching at a comprehensive school and sixth form college in Nottingham before moving to Nerja in 1997. Since then, I have taught English to 11 – 18-year olds at British schools in Spain, preparing students for IGCSE, A-Level and Cambridge examinations from First Certificate to Proficiency Literature. Besides teaching, I enjoyed co-producing and directing musical theatre and concerts. I also fulfilled an Enid Blyton-inspired childhood dream of experiencing boarding school life when I worked in the residence at a British school in Madrid.
What do you enjoy most about being a teacher?
There are many things, so I’ll focus on one of this week’s highlights. A-Level English coursework encourages students to explore their individual interests and take greater responsibility for their own learning. There’s a sense of mutual satisfaction for the student and teacher as the coursework evolves, and this is apparent with the superb opinion article that Alex in Year 13 has just completed.
What do you enjoy most about Phoenix College?
Phoenix College has a very warm, intimate ambience, which is very appealing and frequently commented upon by visitors. It’s also fantastic to work with a team of professionals I had the pleasure of working with previously.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
You only get one life: change situations that don’t make you happy.
If you were on a desert island and you could have three items with you, what would you choose?
A Swiss army knife; one of those beach sofas that are inflated by the wind (it would potentially protect me from the sun, cold and rain, could perhaps be used to catch fish, and maybe even as a float to help me to escape from the island); whatever English dictionary contains the highest number of words.
What is your ultimate, go to gadget or app?
My smart phone. Electronic equipment was so bulky in the Eighties when I was a teenager, and I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that this one single pocket-sized gadget allows me to do so much!
If you could have dinner with two famous people (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
Punk poet John Cooper Clarke: I missed out on going for dinner with him after a gig some years ago so it would be fitting to take him for a curry.
I’d also invite the great Glaswegian comedian Billy Connolly. We could all swap hair-care tips and they’d keep me entertained all evening.
Three words that best describe you:
Loyal, conscientious, tenacious.
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