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From drunk declarations to awkward texts, what happens when teachers date their colleagues?
It's easy to see why teacher-teacher couples work well – they understand the long working hours, the emotional investment and the need to be in bed by 10pm on weeknights. But what about dating another teacher in your school? Is having your beau in a nearby classroom a way to be close or a recipe for disaster?
With Valentine's Day coming up, we spoke to three teachers who've dated their colleagues about their triumphs and disasters:
*Some names have been changed
My girlfriend was in her first year of training and I was a jobbing actor looking for some flexible work so she suggested I go for a teaching assistant position at her school. I got it – it was going to be temporary, but I ended up teaching drama there full time.
I was a little nervous as to whether the kids would clock onto it, but she wasn't and said she was looking forward to having a familiar face around for a bit of support. She sometimes had tough times at school back then and would come to see me if she needed a hug or a bit of reassurance at the end of the day.
We didn't go out of our way to let staff know we were a couple unless they asked, and we didn't tell the kids. There were some funny moments, like when I overheard my year 11s discussing how "fit" she looked in her green dress. A couple of her students did suspect at one stage, but she threw them off the scent by saying: "Have you seen how short he is? We're just friends!"
We told the kids we were dating celebrities. When they asked: "Are you married? Are you dating anyone?" she would make up an elaborate story about how she used to date Michael Fassbender or Chris Hemsworth. Some of mine probably still think that I'm dating Emma Watson.
We do talk about work at home. At school we have different personas and keep a lot in, so when we get back home we get things off our chest and vent – we sometimes end up having therapy sessions in front of the TV.
First base fail
I got drunk in the pub on the last day of Christmas term – also in attendance was a colleague who I'd had a crush on for ages. At the time I thought revealing this fact to her was a brave and romantic thing to do. When I woke up in the morning, I was so mortified that I thought I might never be able to go back to school (thankfully we had two weeks off). Later that day, I got a message from her. I apologised for being so forward and she said it was fine and that we should go for a drink over the holidays.
So in the gap between Christmas and New Year, we went on one of the most awkward dates I have ever been on. I arrived late because my bus was delayed, the bar we went to was playing really bad music really loudly and we ended up spending lots of the evening walking around in the cold trying to find somewhere else that was open.
But the worst part was that we had nothing to say to each other. We struggled through a couple of hours of awkward chat before calling it a night. We exchanged some polite texts to say we'd be better as friends and we haven't really said more than a hello to each other since.
Happily ever after
I met my partner when we worked in the same school; he was a geography teacher and I was a maths teacher. I had a boyfriend for the first couple of years that we knew each other, but we became good friends and ended up getting together after I broke up with him. That was two years ago.
We tried to keep it under wraps for a while with our colleagues, but they worked it out quite quickly. Then my partner told other people in his department, so the cat was out of the bag completely! We got some ribbing about it at first, but it was all in good humour.
We didn't tell our pupils, but they knew. They would ask us questions in class about each other and as much as I tried to bat them away, I think it was obvious. One of my form group asked if she could be our bridesmaid!
We used to talk about work a lot – I was quite new to the profession, so having a more experienced teacher to run things by was really helpful. The fact we were also at the same school and working long hours meant that a lot of our lives were based in school, so we ended up talking about it a lot more than we should have. It's a lot better now that we work at different schools; we still talk about teaching, but we limit ourselves.