One Day You Could be a Teacher! 

7 March 2024

Have you been watching the Netflix series One Day? The Guardian gave it a 5-star rating, describing it as a “highly bingeable love story packed with magnificent nostalgia and a sublime soundtrack”. I strongly agree and I highly recommend it. 

The series is based on David Nicholls’ 2009 best-selling and much-loved novel of the same title (also highly recommended by me, by the way!). The two main characters, Dexter and Emma, meet at Edinburgh University in 1988, and the subsequent epic love story spans the following 20 years, with all the action taking place on a single date on each subsequent year, 15 July, St Swithin’s Day. 

As we track the vicissitudes of Emma and Dexter’s personal and professional lives, we feel moments of both profound sympathy and utter exasperation for both characters. Dexter generally comes out worse along the way, as he is more easily inclined towards entitlement, narcissism, and selfishness (although generally managing to be an engaging and loveable character at the same time – at least to Emma). 

One of Dexter’s lowest ebbs takes place in an expensive London restaurant when both characters are in their mid-20s. Dexter’s career as a TV presenter is going well and he has started to enjoy the lavish lifestyle of a minor celebrity. Emma, meanwhile, is teaching in an inner-city comprehensive and is cash strapped. 

During their lunch date, Emma finds Dexter’s behaviour obnoxious and arrogant; his recent success has gone to his head, as have the alcohol and drugs that have become his crutch. He tells Emma that her chosen career path is dull and uninspiring. He (unknowingly) quotes George Bernard Shaw by saying to her: “You know what they say…those who can, do; those who can’t teach.” 

At this, the feisty Emma pushes the table onto Dexter in horror, spilling the expensive food and drink all over his trendy clothes, and she storms out, shortly before declaring to him that their friendship is over (at least for the time being…).  

Bravo, Emma! 

The irony of Dexter’s remark is not lost on the audience. His unkind comment cannot hide the fact that it is in fact his own life that is spiralling out of control. He is keenly aware of the vacuous, shallow nature of his own work but reacts angrily – and possibly with jealousy – at seeing his best friend, Emma, succeeding in a rewarding and challenging role. 

Like many teachers, I delayed my own entry into teaching because I was keen to try other things before committing myself back to school. But I have no regrets. My experiences in a range of different schools – and now in Downe House – have proved far more rewarding that the jobs I had before I entered the profession. 

In fact, I now enjoy advocating for the profession, and I believe that many people underestimate the rewards and perks of a career in teaching. 

That is why we are organising an event at Downe House, in partnership with Bradfield College and a local comprehensive school, The Downs School, to promote teaching as a career. Our three schools are more fortunate than many in terms of the field of candidates for vacancies, but we are not complacent: we feel the need to champion our profession and build an awareness in our region for the opportunities we provide. 

We want to describe to all prospective teachers the many different training opportunities that we can provide. Anyone wishing to come to the event on Tuesday 19 March can sign up using this form.

Mattew Godfrey smiles at camera


Mr Matt Godfrey

Read more of our Deputy Head's blog posts

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