Mark France

Mark France – Senior First Officer, Jet2.com

When were you at Polam?

I was at Polam between 1996 and 1998. I was one of 3 boys who were the first to study A-levels in Sixth Form at Polam Hall.

What did you study at Polam?

Business Studies/Economics, Geography, Photography and General Studies

What are you doing today?

I am now an airline pilot flying Boeing 757-200s for Jet2.com, based in Newcastle. My job involves working closely with a fellow pilot, the cabin crew and airline and airport personnel to ensure safe and efficient flying for passengers to and from numerous holiday destinations. These include, but are not limited to, European sun destinations in Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and the Canary Islands, but also on occasion to the Arctic Circle, U.A.E. Africa and the U.S.A.

How did Polam help you to get there?

Polam Hall gave me a solid foundation which enabled me to study and complete my A-levels, allowing me to take a university degree in Law. It also helped me to mature socially by virtue of the mixed sex classes, something which was foreign to me throughout my schooling at Hurworth House. A career in Law was not for me, although I completed the degree after which I applied to Oxford Aviation Academy to study for my Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL). My training took place in Oxford and Phoenix, Arizona.

The education I received at Polam was instrumental in my success at gaining a place at Oxford and my subsequent successful completion of the course. This led almost immediately to my first job in aviation as a 757 pilot with Thomas Cook Airlines based in Manchester. I spent the summer of 2006 working for Thomas Cook Airlines on a 6 month contract, at the end of which I applied to Jet2.com and was given a full time permanent contract based at Newcastle. This enabled me to return to the North-East and I have been living in Darlington ever since.

What’s your best memory of Polam?

My greatest memory of my time at Polam was for the first time being treated as an adult and allowed to take responsibility for myself, although the Leavers Ball will remain a time of mixed emotions. I still keep in touch with many of the girls (and the other 2 boys).

Who was you favourite teacher?

How can I say my favourite teacher was anyone other than Sue Dobson?! Although I didn’t take the sciences in Sixth Form, Mrs. Dobson did teach a lot of my General Knowledge classes and I remember enjoying them more than many other lessons. I think this was because Mrs. Dobson motivated us and encouraged us to be ourselves and gave us each an input into the way the classes were run.