“The difference between a good teacher and great teacher is attitude – and the ability to inspire and believe in someone.”
Winner Of The Award For Outstanding New Teacher Of The Year 2009
Now Head of School At Sirius Academy
Winning the award meant the world to me, it was genuinely overwhelming, and I was extremely proud and still am!
Being acknowledged for something you do and do well and being given the opportunity to tell you story is wonderful.
My story was very well publicised on TV and in the media because lots of people told me I would never become a teacher. When I was 18 I went into some primary schools to find out a bit more about the profession, but a number of the training providers told me I couldn’t be a teacher because I’m dyslexic. But here I am now 15 years later working as a headteacher in an academy with over 1500 pupils. The award showed that anyone with a passion for changing the lives of young people can become a teacher.
The award had a significant impact on my career. I was promoted on the day the national judges arrived at the school to the job of The Director of Specialism. This was a large step for me. A couple of years after I was able to apply for a job as Assistant Head for teaching and Learning at Beverley Grammar School (a boys non-selective secondary school). I was given the job. The award exposed me to many national projects and leaders who I would never have got the opportunity to meet.
I started my career at a school in North Yorkshire and after the first year applied for a job as Head of Business in a Business and Enterprise School in Wakefield called Freeston Business and Enterprise College. I never thought I would get the job however, I did, and in my third year of teaching I won the National Award For New Teacher of the Year.
I became an ambassador for charities and spoke at national events.
I am now the Head of School of a very large secondary academy in Hull
THE JOB, CHANGES AND CHALLENGES
I always wanted to be a teacher, totally! My mum was a headteacher but some of my inspiration and drive actually came from teachers who I thought were so bad that I thought I could do better. Then I had some teachers who really inspired and motivated me, it’s how they make you feel – students always remember how you make them feel. Some teachers belittle you, some can inspire and really bring out your talents.
Too many students are written off because of conditions like dyslexia, but schools can turn that around; we need more diversity within the profession, people that students understand and can work with. Some people believe that it is all about the ability to write but there many different forms of ‘clever’.
Thankfully after trying out some primary schools I went to Bradford College and the level of support I received there was amazing. The difference between a good teacher and great teacher is attitude – and the ability to inspire and believe in someone. It was their belief that I could do it that helped me.
Over the years I’ve become more confident however I have never lost my passion for ensuring students become the best that they can be.
But I want to change the way we do education, we have got to work within the system, but we can make it a lot better to suit the needs of the children we teach. At my school we have altered things so that children enjoy learning. While they still have to do the core subjects we have introduced more drama, arts and recruited more staff into the PE department. We have introduced engineering. We have transformed things so that the children can choose more and if they want to be more creative through more vocational qualifications, they can. We encourage students to work in teams, build confidence, develop ‘soft skills’.
As Head of School I can see how important pastoral care is especially given the backgrounds that some students come from in our care.
It has to be winning the award as it showed others what is possible. But also getting a school of out a situation where it was deemed to ‘require improvement’. The work required to transform it was incredible but the impact it had on the students’ lives was amazing. And the stand out moment was becoming a headteacher and being able to help other teachers.
It’s not easy, in fact it’s very hard but make sure you show the students you care.
THE TEACHING PROFESSION
The exams system has changed significantly in the years that I have been teaching. We need to acknowledge that there is more than one type of ‘clever’. But the students make the job all worthwhile.