“I never considered that the job I was doing was any more worthy of an award than other fantastic head teachers I knew; however, I recognised an opportunity to raise the profile of a school community in a deprived inner-city area, which previously only ever received negative media attention.”
Winner, Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School, 2006
Now works as a leadership consultant and Ofsted inspector
The win was for everyone and not just for me…all the teachers, leaders, governors and parents who had shaped my journey as a teacher and a leader. But most of all it was for the Handsworth community and ultimately the very special and talented pupils of Rookery School.
On my return to school I was greeted not only by Rookery staff, parents and pupils but with bouquets of flowers from parents of pupils at other local schools together with tradespeople from along Rookery Rd; apparently the cheers could be heard all around Handsworth on that Sunday night as people tuned into watch the broadcast on BBC 2.
I realised then just how important the award was, moreover that I was not just an ambassador for teaching, education and Rookery School, but for Handsworth. What an amazing thing…
I was a reluctant entrant into the competition, and in many ways a reluctant winner, but having been surprisingly nominated by a challenging governor – I was persuaded to go along with it by my deputy head. I never considered that the job I was doing was any more worthy of an award than other fantastic head teachers I knew; however, I recognised an opportunity to raise the profile of a school community in a deprived inner-city area, which previously only ever received negative media attention.
I was a late entrant to the teaching profession. I left school at 16, disillusioned with the education system and worked in many unfulfilling roles in local government. At 23 as a young mum I decided to return to education via the Open University. Working part-time to pay my fees I juggled roles and gained what I considered to be a degree of ‘convenience’; fitting in around an already busy life.
I began my teaching career in a large, innovative, inner-city primary school at 30 and absolutely loved it! I never looked back, was promoted rapidly, spent some time as an advisory teacher for the local authority before I took up a headship at 40 at an inner-city school in ‘special measures’ – a challenge I relished. The school developed and went from strength to strength…9 years on I won the Primary Head Teacher of The Year Award.
THE JOB, CHANGES AND CHALLENGES
I am passionate about teaching and as a champion of the children, I believe that everything a teacher does must be designed to have a positive impact on pupils or there is absolutely no reason to do it. Teaching is hard, hard work, headship is also an impossible task; however, teachers and leaders who are dedicated to improving the life chances of the pupils they teach, do an amazing job and are absolutely selfless in pursuit of their aim. Those who do it for other reasons don’t survive in the profession and frankly the profession doesn’t need them.
Following the award, I remained as head teacher at Rookery (many thought that I wouldn’t!); developed the school still further – opened a Children’s Centre, a resource base for autism and a community arts hub. Never a day passed by when I wasn’t proud of the children and their achievements as budding authors, mathematicians, musicians, actors, dancers, historians…
We confidently converted to academy status in 2011, the second primary school in the country to do so. I continued to support new headteachers within Birmingham local authority and began to work as an Ofsted Inspector. Importantly, having seen first-hand the power of Teaching Awards to transform communities – I became their biggest advocate and for many years was a judge within the West Midlands region. I never considered these roles to be conflicting; in fact, they enhanced each other.
I think sometimes we as teachers, underestimate the power and influence that we have, not only over young lives but over whole communities.
I retired from headship in December 2015 but still continue to work as a leadership consultant and as an Ofsted Inspector.