Christine Finnegan </p>Winner, Outstanding New Teacher, 2005

” Winning my award was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. To be recognised for something you love doing is the icing on the cake.”

Christine Finnegan
Winner, Outstanding New Teacher, 2005
Currently Headteacher At Our Lady And St Kenelm RC School, Halesowen, West Midlands


Winning my award was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. To be recognised for something you love doing is the icing on the cake. I get up at 5am and go to bed most nights, at midnight, with the same excitement; to get to school to see the children.

Being recognised at national level has had a huge impact upon my teaching career; it has affirmed my belief that God has a plan for everyone and teaching is my calling; to serve the children in my care and to enable the staff to be the best that they can be.

I am now headteacher, trained Ofsted inspector and RE Inspector for the Birmingham Diocese.

The award gave the teaching profession within my school community and the cCtholic network great presidency. It helped to inspire me to encourage others into teaching, train teachers to be the best they can be and offer school-to-school support across Sandwell Local Authority and the Catholic School in the Arch Diocese.

Winning took me to South Africa to support the teaching in the townships and inspired me to get involved with teaching in deprived countries. I travelled to India to help colleagues to build up school-to-school networking, where I took teachers from my own school to teach in India and then they came to teach in our country – as a result teaching practice was shared and standards raised in all schools involved. The schools I worked in went on to achieve the International School Award through the British Council. My teaching career started in 1996 at St Hubert’s Catholic Primary school, where I was a mom, volunteer and then trained as a teaching assistant. I left my job in Engineering to volunteer at the school, hearing children read, and I loved it.  I then continued at the same school to be a teacher when I won in October 2005.


I certainly didn’t always want to be a teacher – never!! The thought of working with children never appealed to me at all. I wanted to be an engineer and I loved it too.

My teaching style has probably changed over the years but passion, drive and enthusiasm remains from the day I started; building teaching teams and driving standards for the most deprived children is in my veins.

Pastoral care is what we believe in first and foremost. Social working is what we have to do before we can do the teaching. Some children are not school ready when they come into school and they bring with them complex needs, which need to be addressed, before we can even begin to teach the curriculum.


Being with the children, watching them learn and supporting them to be the best they can be – following the Gospel Values and reconciling differences with their friends. I love it when past pupils who I have taught come and find me, even in the pub, and tell me I inspired them to go into teaching.

I’m proud of my whole teaching career, going from a volunteer to a headteacher, encouraging and inspiring others to do the same.

One of the most rewarding qualities of being a teacher, leader and even a headteacher, is the relationships you build along the way, especially with the children; the conversations you have with even the smallest of children in school and the impact you have on their little lives is astonishing. I know every child in my care by name, I know their little personalities and the fun we have together, whilst learning, is exceptional. Who else can say that about their job? The lives we touch with the families in our school, makes our job worthwhile.


Teaching is a vocation, not a job – love it or leave it.


There is certainly more pressure from the Government over the years I’ve been in teaching, less money coming into school therefore redundancies have to be made, teachers leaving the profession due to demands from above.  But I believe more attractive ITT and more money would encourage them to stay.

I have stayed because I know I am making a difference to the lives of children in my care. I am developing leaders at all levels, including teaching assistants, and I am supporting schools to improve – every child should have outstanding teaching all day every day with teachers who LOVE their calling.