Duncan Barclay is a 23-year-old, newly qualified (second year) secondary school physics teacher, working at Inverurie Academy in Aberdeenshire. Duncan holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from Robert Gordon University and a PDGE from the University of Aberdeen. While studying engineering Duncan considered a range of career options including teaching. Then, post-graduation he decided to go for it. He’s currently studying for a masters degree in management alongside his full-time teaching role which will allow him to fast-track his career.
“When I first did my degree in engineering, I initially had my heart set on going into every boy’s dream job – Formula 1. However, when I started researching the job opportunities, I soon realised this would require a move away from Scotland which I didn’t want.
“I started looking into a range of alternative careers and decided to do one week’s work experience in my old primary school. I knew there and then that teaching was for me. Initially, it was quite daunting to stand up in a room classroom full of children, all staring back at you, I soon found my confidence and started to really enjoy building up a rapport with the students.
“Studying for the PDGE was completely different to my first degree in engineering. It challenged me in different ways than what I was used to, and I had to quickly grasp the different styles of assignments, going from a very black and white, scientific perspective to one that felt much more personal.
“As the only full-time physics teacher in my school I am busy but I thrive on it and love the challenge. I make sure that I manage my time efficiently in order to work to the best of my ability. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to run my own department at such an early stage of my career. All my colleagues are incredibly supportive, and I know there is always someone there to give me advice when I need it.
“It’s great to be able to study for my master’s in managåement while simultaneously teaching full time. I couldn’t do it without the support of my talented colleagues and school leaders who are always encouraging me to achieve my full potential.
“I’d definitely recommend that any young graduates who are considering a role in teaching should visit a school and observe some classes. Personally, I find that it’s a job that is both stimulating and a whole lot of fun and that is something I hadn’t expected. We need more teachers who come from STEM backgrounds, so it means there’s a lot of opportunity and fast progression for those who want it.
“Some of my friends ask me if a dream job came up in F1 now, whether I would consider changing career. But hand on heart, I can honestly say I wouldn’t take it, even if it meant a pay rise. I love my job as no two days are ever the same and it feels great to know that you are helping to inspire future generations.”