“One of my main priorities is to ensure a happy staff team who feel respected, loved and supported. A staffroom with laughter is very important to me and if you can achieve this, great things can happen.”
Winner Of The Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year 2010
Now Head of Primary, Rounday Primary Campus, Leeds
It was such an honour to win the award at such an early stage in my career. I will always be eternally thankful for the amazing opportunities which followed and how this has impacted positively on my career. I thoroughly enjoyed judging for the Teaching Awards and being able to network with such great people which added greatly to my growing skill-set and passion for leadership and management. I knew I would always remain committed to the mission of securing great success at the school where my career started, but since leaving there I have worked as an Academy Improvement Partner and now I am the Head of Primary of a large through-school in Leeds.
My career started off in a wonderful Junior School in Wakefield in 2008, with the most inspirational Headteacher as my mentor. I was awarded the New Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2010. I was promoted to the Assistant Headteacher at the same time and was proud to support the school’s journey to outstanding in 2012.
Winning the award was an amazing experience and celebration for me personally, but also our wonderful school community. I stayed at the school as the Assistant Headteacher until the Headteacher retired and I then went onto new challenges. The whole process brought many amazing experiences and opportunities ranging from speaking at the World Education Summit in Qatar to Noel Edmonds entering my classroom and inviting me to go on LIVE Deal or No Deal (I don’t like to talk about the outcome much!). I have always loved teaching and winning the award made me even more motivated to make a difference and inspire, engage and challenge young people. I look back at the start of my career with great pride and gratitude as I couldn’t have wished for a better start to my career.
THE JOB, CHANGES AND CHALLENGES
From a very young age, I knew I was born to teach. My Year 2 teacher, Julie Day, who I later had the pleasure of working with during my time as an Academy Improvement Partner, inspired me the minute I met her. I worked hard at school and university to achieve my very best as this was the path for me.
My teaching style has always been rooted in 3 basics…to engage, inspire and challenge. Over the years, as the curriculum has changed, it certainly has evolved. I believe passionately in a secure balance of enjoyment and passion versus excellence and rigour. I now support teachers to use simple lesson mechanics which support accelerated progress for all children whilst allowing teachers to sprinkle their magic to ensure rich learning experiences. We focus on the main thing and do not allow ourselves to be distracted from this.
Working at my current school, I have seen first-hand the enormity and importance of high-quality pastoral care in schools. Teachers play a crucial role in shaping children’s futures and given the challenges of modern life more work is needed now to ensure that all children are ready and fit for their future. Children need to feel safe and secure and the most important ingredient in school is positive relationships. Great teachers get this right! They model great relationships between every adult in the school (including the caretaker and cleaners) and every pupil and they also expect the same courtesy and respect between their pupils. It is only when those relationships have developed that true, highly effective pastoral care can happen.
Social media has impacted in so many ways. It has helped share best practice, raise awareness and celebrate the amazing work that is happening in schools. I follow some inspirational people and have been able to connect and network with people who have helped me transform the school where I now work which has been amazing. I also feel that it has added to the growing concerns over mental health and psychological wellbeing. We now live in an environment where we can access information immediately and this has led to children and young people wanting everything right now and never fully being content. There are huge lessons to be taught from this which needs to be integrated into school culture and curriculums.
Too many! I look back with pride at many amazing moments from leading large-scale shows, inspiring boys and girls to dance and many have now embarked on a career in dance to leading on transformational change as the Head of Primary. My biggest mission is to work with people and children to create the best possible experiences for our young people and this makes the job rewarding and memorable!
I am proud of so many things…At the moment, I have to remind myself that at the age of 32 I became a Head of a Primary phase and undertook a huge challenge to drive rapid, whole-school improvements which has been intense but very rewarding. We are now starting to secure better outcomes and realise the school’s potential.
There are so many pupils who will always stay with me…There are still some students who I stay in contact with who have gone on to achieve great things which makes me feel very proud!
I’d advise a newly qualified teacher the following – FOCUS, OPTIMISIM AND RESILIENCE. Focus on the main and important things, approach the job with optimism and enjoy being a teacher and develop your resilience so that you can create a sustainable way of working which allows for a healthy sense of balance.
I had the best start to teaching and certainly learnt from the best. I now have the pleasure of passing this onto the NQTs in my school who are thriving and enjoying their work.
THE TEACHING PROFESSION
There have been many changes in the profession since I have been teaching and I have learnt a lot along the way. I think it is important, amidst all of the changes, to remind yourself and others of why we do what we do. I can sleep well at night knowing that everything I do and decide upon is always in the best interest of the pupils.
It makes me feel sad to think that great people leave, and are leaving, the profession. As a leader, one of my main priorities is to ensure a happy staff team who feel respected, loved and supported. A staffroom with laughter is very important to me and if you can achieve this, great things can happen.
Yum, yum Fridays is a must if you want to encourage staff to stay!!! Staff need to feel clear of expectations (know the goal posts), feel supported in order to achieve these expectations and feel recognised and listened to…create a happy environment and the rest will follow