BSc Physics, 1992
Teacher and Duke of Edinburgh Manager, Dollar Academy
Make the most of every opportunity to get involved in all that is on offer beyond your degree .
After graduating with a Physics degree, I spent a year doing a PGCE at King's College London and have now been a teacher for just almost 30 years, in both England and now in Scotland. I've spent quite a few years as an examiner with London University/Edexcel, and was A-level Principal Examiner for eight years; during which time I wrote a dozen A-level papers.
What's the best thing about what you're doing now?
Working with people - youngsters who are on an upward spiral in their lives, with so much potential and dreams and possibilities ahead of them.
What made you interested in your teaching?
My Physics teaching when I was at school wasn’t the best, so I feel that I am balancing out things by being the best teacher I can be. I spent almost a decade as a Head of Year, which allows a teacher to help a student in a more holistic way, rather than just within their subject.
How has your career developed since graduating?
Writing exam papers and leading a team of experienced Physics Teachers was an interesting mix of managing people while being able to focus on the technical side of my subject. Seeing the entire process of an exam paper from start to finish was quite a journey. My exam paper was the special option topics paper, which required four separate sections to be balanced in difficulty, style and approach. This made me realise that, with hindsight, I wish I had studied more Astrophysics at Birmingham.
What motivates you?
This is such an important question for anyone! Doing the best in any challenge has to be up there. As a teacher, I want to inspire and motivate, and be the spark to light the flame for someone else, whether that is for Physics or spending time up a mountain. Hearing back, years later, from a student that studied Physics or found a passion for the outdoors is always appreciated.
What was the best thing about your time as a student here?
UBMC - the University of Birmingham Mountaineering Club. This helped to develop a passion for the outdoors which I now get to pass onto the next generation.
In what way did living and studying in Birmingham live up to your expectations?
It's a great campus environment - so good that you might only appreciate it when it's too late.
How did you grow as a person by coming to University? Did it change your life in any way?
I met my wife, who was studying chemical engineering, in first year when I was in Lake Hall and she was in Wyddrington Hall. We have now been married for over thirty years and have four children. We have lifelong friends from UoB and meet up every summer (at least). Personally, lots of areas beyond my subject kept me busy - BUNAC, Mountaineering, Hall of Residence Musical.
What advice would you give to current students?
Make the most of every opportunity to get involved in all that is on offer beyond your degree - there are fantastic opportunities available.
Since leaving university, what are some of your greatest accomplishments?
I completed the Highland Fling Ultra-marathon (53 miles) in April 2014. I've come 5th and 3rd in the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series in 2011 and 2012 and now run over 50 ultramarathons. I've recently hung up my boots after 27 seasons in a row of refereeing rugby matches (time for a change). But top of the list has to be my family - where four children keep me very busy.
A Photo gallery showing Andy's fondest memories through the years
An Insightful note from Andy...
“It’s all about the people that you spend time with, as in so many areas of life. Whether this is in lectures, up a mountain or in Selly Oak somewhere.”