“I just enjoy what I do, and every day is a new day and challenge.”
Headteacher of the year in a Secondary School, 2016
Currently Headteacher at The Radclyffe School, Oldham
Winning the award made me feel very proud of the achievements of our students, staff and the whole school community for the amazing journey we’ve been on together over all these years. After university I got a job as a history teacher at Shoeburyness High School in September 1983 and won my Teaching Awards Gold Plato in 2016 after I had been a headteacher for 20 years. I am still headteacher of The Radclyffe School. Winning the award just made me further appreciate how fortunate I am to be doing such a special job.
THE JOB, CHANGES AND CHALLENGES
I didn’t always want to be a teacher, my first love was cricket and I would have loved to be a professional cricketer, but I realised quite quickly that I was not good enough to make the grade. But I have loved teaching and have seen many changes over the years, and although I’ve always focussed on the individual needs of the students that I’ve taught the resources at our disposal now are so much more varied, stimulating and accessible than they were. Everything now seems to be through interactive smartboards instead of your hands being covered with chalk or bander fluid as it was when I first started teaching. Technology has made everything much more accessible for both staff and students.
The best teachers have always seen themselves as more than just teachers of subject specific knowledge and skills, instead they see themselves as educators of the ‘whole child’. So this aspect has not changed. However, what has changed are the demands on teachers and students and these together with social deprivation and mental health issues in society has made teaching a much more challenging career. Perhaps this makes it an even more rewarding career now because of the massive difference you can make to each student with all the challenges they now face!
Social media has obviously brought positives and some challenges. The positive is that the globe has become smaller and accessible to everyone from the comforts of their home or classroom. The rich diversity of resources available today is simply stunning and provide great aides to both teachers and students in their learning journey. However, social media can also be abused, for example, with cyber bullying. In such cases schools end up devoting considerable amounts of time to resolving issues that happen well beyond the school gate but ultimately get brought into school.
My most memorable moment in teaching was the day Sir Alex Ferguson came to open our brand-new school that we had been planning for over five years. The stunned expressions on our students’ faces as he walked into the assembly hall to address them were priceless! They could not believe that a legend of the game was actually amongst them and in their school.
I’m most proud of becoming a headteacher at the tender age of 35! It was the proudest and most frightening moment too as the sense of responsibility and the enormity of the task ahead of me gradually dawned on me! Also receiving the Gold Plato in the Guildhall in 2016.
Treat each day as if it’s the first day of your teaching career. That way every day will be an exciting adventure and there will never be a dull moment! I’ve managed to do that for the last 35 years and it continues to be a memorable journey! And I wish someone had advised me that teaching is a marathon and not a sprint!
THE TEACHING PROFESSION
It is much more professional and due to the external pressures and accountability there is not as much room for mavericks. But I just enjoy what I do, and every day is a new day and challenge.
In order the encourage others to stay, workload and paperwork needs to be reduced so that the focus can be on high quality teaching and learning based on positive relationships without having to justify and explain everything you do on paper.