Nina Ridge is familiar as one of BBC South East’s weather presenters, but she recently returned to teaching maths part-time at the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge. Here she tells the Times why she had to return to the world of education
“Teaching came first for me. I’m a graduate from Leeds University and qualified as a teacher in the late 1990s with maths and PE qualifications.
I initially worked for two years at the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge before deciding to switch careers and join the Met Office.
I started working there in December 2000 and after completing my forecaster training I started presenting across BBC regional and national news channels in April 2001.
I really enjoyed my time at the BBC, but the shift work, early starts and long hours could be testing at times and they were starting to have a negative impact on my children.
I loved teaching and always thought I’d return to the classroom sooner or later, so I began to explore the possibility of becoming a teacher again. I started volunteering in primary school maths classes, as well as at Weald of Kent Grammar.
As a result they offered me a part-time maths teaching job, and I left my permanent role at the BBC in September 2015 to take it up.
For the last year my main job has been teaching part-time, but I am also fortunate enough to be able to freelance at BBC South East covering weather presenter Rachel Mackley when she has time off. The weather shift starts at 3pm, after I’ve finished teaching, so some days I do both jobs!
I have to say, there’s really nothing like teaching. I love that feeling of satisfaction you get when students enjoy your lesson, and discovering and learning is absolutely priceless. Having an impact on the next generation is hugely rewarding.
I would advise anyone thinking about returning to the classroom to visit the Get Into Teaching website. It’s important to find that help because it gives you practical as well as emotional support. Going and getting a practical feel for teaching again is important too – even if it’s just visiting a local school for a day or two. Walking through the entrance of the school made me feel instantly at home again. I grew up in Tunbridge Wells and attended Weald of Kent from 1985-1992.
It’s fair to say classroom technology has advanced a fair bit since I left as a teacher in 2001, but I’m pleased to say I’ve adapted quite well! There are many skills that I learned at the Met Office that I’ve been able to transfer to the classroom, such as reinterpreting scientific data.
I have four children aged 12, ten, eight and seven. My eldest daughter is about to start Year 8 at Tunbridge Wells Girls ‘Grammar. One of the other reasons I returned to teaching was that the school have been very supportive with my timetable. They agreed I can finish early each day so I can collect my younger children who are still at primary school.
We moved back to Tunbridge Wells from London four years ago. It’s a great place to live and I sometimes get recognised when I’m out and about.
As a weather presenter, it is my role to reinterpret complex weather information into an interesting presentation that viewers can understand. I guess you could say I have been teaching the general public the weather for years!
It’s a great privilege helping people plan their days by telling them what the weather has in store, but it isn’t an exact science – sometimes the forecast just goes wrong.”