Break the Silence

It would be fair to say that my social media interaction has been greatly reduced over the past few months. It would also be fair to say that I was never under any illusion  as to the job that awaited me when I applied for my first headship. The support of my family has always been paramount in my ability to do a ‘good’ job. A young family with a son whose sole purpose in life is to dig up every plant in the garden, has always maintained my focus.

Over the past 18 months I have tried to connect with leaders, teachers and people who are brave and bold. They challenge the ‘normal’, push the boundaries and do the right thing for the right people. I have always been drawn to these people, embarking on my own journey of change and courageous leadership. I have always remained steadfast in my want to improve the lives of children I teach, to offer them something different, to be bold and to keep the focus on core purpose.

I have faced a number of challenges in my first headship position but none more so than the ones I have encountered this term. I choose this school because I believed I could make the biggest difference to the children there. The school serves an area that sits in the top ten most  deprived areas in the country, a small authority that perhaps some would not release just how deprived the area is. The school where I started my journey was lost, lacked direction and needed a complete turnaround. The leadership team had greatly reduced in the years before my arrival, including part time leaders at all levels resulting in a school with no clear direction and teachers working in very difficult circumstances.

So yes the Ofsted and an RI judgement was not a shock. The report was positive on the changes we had implemented since my arrival, agreed that there was capacity to improve and that the ‘plan’ was good. So what since? And why the silence?

At around Easter time it became clear that were facing a challenge to our improvement plan. A budget that had appeared healthy with a healthy carry forward was suddenly reduced to a deficit when it was highlighted by myself that our numbers had been recorded incorrect in the previous years. The part time deputy was off on long term sick and would be for the foreseeable future. One teacher on maternity leave and another due to start theirs in the coming months. No business manager. Phase 3 of the building project to commence. And of course the water leak which had reared its head again like a monster from the deep.

Yes these are all things that most heads and schools encounter and so we set about a plan to over come them. We prioritised what needed to be the focus. Quality teachers in front of children for a start. But how to afford these and balance the books was always going to be difficult. Erratic pupil numbers was adding to the overall financial picture and so a marketing campaign would be needed in the coming months. It felt difficult but there were options, possible solutions and ideas.

Half term. A break in thinking as I celebrated my 40th with friends and family. Beautiful weather, BBQs and games were the other order of the week. Perfect and the ideal way to relax and focus the mind. I had at that point no idea how quickly my challenges would rapidly increase.

On returning to work on Monday the tone of term ahead was quickly realised when the police set up a cordon in school cark park next to the playground (much to the excitement of the children who were outside at lunch). No information was given to me at the time but I was told it was a significant incident and would be there for sometime. This was mine, and the schools, first terror related incident. And it was happening on our doorstep. Press were quickly on the scene, phoning the school and walking the school grounds. ‘A school on Lockdown’ it would seem helps focus the attention of a reader. A bomb squad outside my main school gates helped focus mine. There was at no point any threat to the school or was they any immediate danger to our school. The cordon remained in place for a week presenting the school and myself with a communication challenge.

For most this would be a one off. Isolated. A chance to move on with a review of policy. However schools continue to run even in the most challenging of circumstances. A malicious allegation against the school was quickly to follow. In fact would present itself on the following Monday. The details of this I am unable to go into but a police investigation, social services involvement and great deal of anxiety would follow, what we all knew to be a malicious way in which to undermine the hardwork the school undertakes.

But what about the quality teacher on front of the children? Clearly this was delayed a little with the other issues developing. A school in a challenging area would always find recruitment difficult. But perhaps none more so than ours in this moment. And so it should have come as no surprise when we were unable to appoint. More changes, more planning and decision to mix year groups was taken in a term when parents are eager to find out what the plans are for September. Such changes so late in the day presented there own challenges.

Fluctuating pupil numbers depend on good relationships with communities in order to improve the schools reputation. So you can imagine my surprise and anxiety when arriving at school in such glorious weather I was met with two irate gentlemen demanding to know why a tree on the school grounds was currently resting in there back garden. Another issue. Another distraction.

All this against the backdrop of a huge multi million pound building project. But this was my selling point. Changes to the physical building would help my ability to sell the changes the school was going through. The replacement of an 80 year old building to bring it up to date, modern and fit for the future would help steady the pupil numbers. Admittedly dealing with such a large project with no business manager would not be easy for someone who has no experience of any building work. Not even on my own house. Risk assessments, fire safety and healthy and safety are therefore all important. And so when a fire alarm sound during the works in should be no real surprise given the amount of equipment on the school site. And the fire alarm did sound. No fire but it was clear there were issues. With everything else happening it would seem obvious to contact the fire service and ask for help. Perhaps what we hadn’t expected was a threat of closure due to fire risk and building regulations.

We remain open. The school hall now out of use creating a challenge at lunch time to say the least. The tree has been removed from the garden. Although the extensive forest area now gives the residents cause for concern. The police have gone although a planned assembly and work with the community is planned. The building project remains although is now somewhat delayed. The complaint is being followed inline with school policy.

Teaching and learning? My strength. My core purpose. Lost in the tsunami of issues to hit the school this term. My sleep is broken. My anxiety levels raised. My family life suffering from the pressure of a job I live for.  For the first time in my career I have fely lonely, a sole voice and to be honest scared. I know these issues will strengthen my resolve to make a difference. But a child who enjoys pulling plants out the garden and de-heading the flowers only sees a dad that is distracted, absent in thought and upset with a flower that will of course grow back.

My family are everything. They guide and support me. I know they understand. but my heart is breaking at the pressure I now put on them

This is a long blog. I hope honest. But its Sunday morning. I have bought pancakes for breakfast. We will eat them together as a family in the garden. And this morning. Just for this morning. We will take the flowers out together. They will grow again.


The Big 40

I turn 40 tomorrow. It has been an interesting 10 years. To be honest it has been a reasonably interesting 39. I went into my 30s as an NQT, I was single and still living with the parents, weekends were for partying (this sounds like a phrase a 40 year old should use). My teaching career had just started. I spent my time experimenting with my lessons, I would stay up late looking for ideas on what might work. Science was my subject and I would spend hours researching ideas to try in class. Marking I needed to work at, the  ‘Big Write’ would come home with me at weekends while I tried to juggle a new job with a demanding social life! Google was the font of all knowledge and I would spend a large amount of time ‘surfing the net’.

The social life is a little quieter now and the research now consists of creative solutions to my current budget predicaments. I have replaced using Google with Twitter, blogs and other social media outlets. There are plenty of ideas out there, all waiting to be explored and tried in my own context. I feel that since starting  the job I have certainly hit my first major challenge.  Despite not having a large budget last year I have lost a portion of my funding due to a miscalculation in numbers while also suffering a drop in numbers. Possibly following the Ofsted we had earlier in the year.

I have never been someone who has claimed to have all the answers. In fact I have always enjoyed the level of challenge the profession brings. I like to feel the pressure of the job. However planning staffing, resources and a level of service with a deficit budget is a real test. How to prioritise what is needed against what is a so called ‘luxury’ is proving to be difficult after just one year.  I want us to build on  what we have started this year in order to develop and refine our systems and level of service. Any reduction in staffing or resources effects our ability to do that. Significant water leaks, fencing, buildings and furniture  are all testing our budget. The teaching and learning? This is our core purpose and has to be prioritised but they are being pushed. Bullied by the pressures that a lack if significant funding brings.

We have a plan. Its a good plan. And the books will balance for another year. I will turn 40. The game has changed. I go into my 40s looking very different to the 30s man. I have a beard for a start. Grown myself and then trimmed for the big day. I am a headteacher, starting my second year. I have a house of my own with a mortgage I lose sleep over. It has a garden where I head at the weekend to garden hard! I have two wonderful children. One that wakes me up with a loving slap on the face at 5 in the morning. The other who has just asked how I feel about turning 40, apparently its very old and I should be worried. I have a beautiful loving wife who has supported everything I have done, particularly through my career. She has always encouraged me to take the challenge and recognised the level of pressure I thrive on. She has shown complete faith in my abilities. Refuses to feel sorry for me when I complain after a bad day and instead insists I know what to do.

Do I think I can rise to the challenge this budget presents? Possibly. Does my wife believe I can over come this challenge? completely. And unequivocally without doubt.

I love my life. I love my family. And I look forward to my blog at 50!


I look at the time on my phone. It is 3:45 am. My son is attacking the sides of his cot in attempt to break free of the wooden pad his parents are holding him in. However, a short time spent stroking his back he realises the pad is a nice place to rest for the time being. I return to bed. I must finish my newsletter, I can’t remember the theme of my assembly. I look at my phone. It’s 4.07am. I have a meeting at 11, did I print that information? I close my eyes. I check my phone. It’s 5.25 am. My son yells ‘hiya’ at the top of his voice. It’s 6am. Time to move. I need to pick bread up to make toast for my happy Friday welcome on the playground.

It’s time I wrote a new blog. It would be fair to say that it has been a while since my last update. I have learned more since taking up post in April than perhaps throughout my whole career. I have also learned how important family are. But I have particularly started to recognise the importance of time.

It has been a busy few months. Since starting in April I have inherited a multi million pound refurbishment, seen water come through roof, floor and even the wall, we have changed systems, polices, procedures and logos. We have visited aims, values and ethos. Have even had my first Ofsted as a headteacher.

I have known no job like it. Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity and demand from the start to end of the day. The decisions that need making are from low to high importance but seem to play an integral part of the job…as does reading a never ending list of emails.

I have always been passionate about my job. I always wanted to be a teacher despite not going into the profession until my late 20s. I look forward to teaching and learning. As a teacher the building of units of work that engage a class was something that I really enjoyed. The reason for headship was to build something special and truly unique. Purposeful and pertinent to our children. I am drawn to creative leaders who take risks, experiment and push boundaries. This is what gets me out of the bed in the morning. The opportunity to build something that truly makes a difference. This is the most exhilarating time I have had in my career. It is certainly a difficult job. And I love it.

I have never feared or worried about Ofsted inspections. I have had several inspections in my 11 year career. I have found them all to be positive experiences. I have never done things for Ofsted, I have always believed in keeping things simple and ensuring that I provide the very best experiences for the children I work with. This time was no different. I worked well with the team over the two days. I was honest, reflective and held nothing back. I shared what we were trying to do, what we had done but very much about where we were going. All conversations were two way, I felt listened to and valued as a professional. Something I was particularly grateful for so early into my career as a head. The outcome? Exactly the same as the conclusion we had come to as a school. Requires Improvement. However this was an inspection, feedback and report that didn’t feel like a school that required improvement. This was feedback and a report that recognised the we are an improving school. I am happy with that. In fact i like that. I want us to be an improving school. A school moving forward. A school taking risks. A different kind of school. A school pushing boundaries. An ever improving school.

However the days, weeks and months have shortened. They are as short as I have ever known. There is long list of projects that need to be started, finished and some just discussed. There is so much to do. I am so excited about the future and what we can build and create. This is an exciting time. This is our time.

It’s 7pm. I am making the hardest decision of the day. I am undertaking a high stakes game of Mr Men memory game. The challenge? For my daughter and I to complete the game before my son finds us. Mr happy and Mr Bump. It’s a miss. My daughter finds a pair. Mr Happy and Mr Messy. It’s a miss. I am running out of time. My daughter finds a pair. There is a loud ‘hiya’. He has found us. The cards are immediately targeted and hurled at us both. In the panic I grab mr silly and mr small. My daughter grabs her pairs and declares herself the winner. My son hurls himself at me and repeatedly screams ‘hiya, hiya, hiya, hiya, ‘ I grab the mr happy card. This is my time.


A while since my last post. The pace of headship together with family life has squeezed my spare time and best intentions have slipped to become hopes.

I have started my first full year of headship following my initial summer term transition. I read books, took advice, listened, watched. The advice was simple, look, listen and learn before committing to any changes. So I looked and listened and found water leaks, extensive building projects, relocated classrooms, staff leaving, budget challenges, vandalism and trees felled by neighbours.

The decisions came much quicker than I would have imagined. leaking pipes underground with a leaking roof above. classrooms to be rebuilt with limited space to relocate. These early questions were difficult to answer. A combination of lack of knowledge, together with a lack of experience could make for a toxic combination. It is,however, on these occasions when we are forced to listen further and use the experience of others. Something that I have been enormously grateful for.

I went into headship confident, experienced and knowledgeable in primary education. I went with little experience of building projects, land law or an understanding of British water pipe and irrigation systems. It has become apparent, quickly, that this is perhaps a role that it is very difficult to gain experience in unless the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ presents itself.

I became a father confident, experienced and knowledgeable on children. With little experience on waking at 2am, 3am and 4. Nothing prepared me for the emotion of pride at watching my children learn to crawl, walk, run and talk. I wasn’t ready for the time taken to bath, dress, feed then dress again. I was not aware of how it would feel to watch my daughter on her first day at school. No fear, no worries, no expectations. Just pure, unfiltered excitement,

Not once, sadly for me, did she ask about water connections, who was responsible for the trees, which budget code her books would come from. She failed to ask about guttering, perimeter fencing or how many square meters her class would need. She just wanted to go to school…..and have lunch.

My four year old does not go to my school. On Monday the 4th of September she started school. While I held back the tears as I watched my baby, my pride and joy, my first born take her first steps into the education system, I searched for the right words. My daughter turned to me and said ‘Don’t worry Daddy, everything is going to be alright’.

And how right she is. Everything is going to be alright. It is not about leaks, land law, budgets and lack of laminating pouches.

Its about the excitement of learning and experiencing something new. Changes are challenging and can be unnerving. But learning is magical. Schools and teachers are creating memories that last a lifetime.

They will be magical memories at our school. So don’t worry. Everything’s going to alright.


Mr funny face

So many faces to put names to. So many names to remember the face they belong to. A smile on my face that is now starting to look a little strange. An angry face to greet me first thing in the morning. A happy face when I enter a classroom. A confused face when attempting to understand midday supervision. So many faces.

The information highway is well and truly open. No longer sipping tiny bits of information but instead attempting to gulp down whole waves of data. The questions are coming thick and fast. The answers? Not so much. My mind is awash with ideas now. I am almost attempting to consume the whole school. I can quickly forget who I have spoke to, what has been said, what’s in the diary and how I got to work or more importantly how I get home. 

Within the space of four weeks I am now fully involved with the life of school. I think about it at night, when I get up, when I go to bed. I get excited with what might be, I am energised when I see something I think I can have positive impact on, the developments I see in school give me a real motivation to succeed. There are quick fixes, slow burners and long term projects.

I will be at the end of my 4th week on Friday. It is fair to say the days are flying by. I sit down at a desk around five in the afternoon and stare at my windows screen. I open word. Then publisher. Then email. Then a bit web browsing on the key for leaders, Trello, school website. I stare at the windows screen a little more. I like the icons on my desktop but feel that I need to start formulating a plan. 

I am now updating my STARS diagnostic weekly and almost daily. My focus is being drawn in key areas. I plan to share this in the coming weeks with the key team members from SLT. At the moment this is the inner workings of my head. This could prove to be  problematic. I need a clear strategic plan. A clear way of communicating my findings. Then a plan to move forward. There are policies, structures, staffing, procedures all to be looked at.

But why? Why all these….things. Because it is these ‘things’  will allow for greater focus. Greater purpose. Core purpose. Investment in teaching learning. Time on teaching and learning. 

More faces. Faces on the playground. Faces at the gate. Faces in the cars when I drive home.

The most important face? My daughters when I arrive home and spend time playing Mr Funny Face with her. 

Teaching is a calling.

Family is everything.

The First 10 days

Tomorrow I will host my first PAD as headteacher. It has perhaps come sooner than I would have liked but does enable me time to pause and reflect on my first few weeks.  I’m still smiling, still watching and still listening. There have been phone calls, emails, meetings, briefings and even the odd walk around school.

The role is varied and diverse, with many layers to be considered to each element. I can see how easy it could be to be spread too thinly. I am currently trying to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible but this can feel overwhelming at times. At times the information flow is slow and steady and almost refreshing, at other times it can be fast flowing and difficult to navigate.

I have met with all teachers, held one parents meeting with another planned later in the week, attended a governors meeting, met with key people from the LA. I have learnt most though from  my time in class. Walking around school. Speaking to children, looking at books, watching the learning that takes place. Each time I enter a classroom the children are still excited to see me, proud to show theirs books and keen to share their learning.

Schools can be complex places, with personalities, structures and systems. It would be easy to focus on these areas, become distracted with the enormous weight given to key areas in school. Most commonly this can be an over focus on data, assessment, health and safety or lunch times. There has certainly been some of my time spent on these areas.

Tomorrow will not be based on these areas. Tomorrow will be core purpose. Teaching and Learning. Thinking about where we have been, where are now but most importantly where we are going and how we will get there.

Leaky Pipes

Interviews are always a challenge. What questions will they ask? How should I answer them? What are my strengths and areas to develop? However, I do not recall being asked about perimeter fencing, leaky water pipes and dealing with asbestos.

The wonderful variety of activities we offer in schools and the range of learning opportunities never cease to amaze me. Schools are busy, hardworking and exciting places to work. Even in my first few days the eagerness of the children to learn, the engagement of the teachers to teach and buzz of activity in school is truly heart warming and at times restores all faith in the Education System. What an honour it has been in my first three days to look at a school through fresh eyes, meet with new children and engage with new adults.

I am, according to my reading of ‘The First 90 Days, currently accelerating my learning. I have started to take in vast amounts of information Speaking and listening to parents, pupils and staff. So many names to learn, so many questions asked and so much to take in. I have started to carryout a STARS diagnostic, again from my reading of the book. I have started to identify key areas in school that fit into each element in order to focus my work in the coming weeks.

No day has been the same. My first three days have flown. No day the same. The children are so eager to show me their school, discuss their work and tell me their jokes….What’s wobbly and flies in the sky?…..A jellycopter (year 1)

The striking thing?The number of people who talk proudly of this school and the work they do there. These are not schools. These are magical places at the heart of a community.

So what I have learnt? I have learnt I know nothing about burst water pipes or asbestos, but that somebody else does know about them. I have learnt that meeting and greeting parents before and after school is a quick win. I have learnt some more names. I have learnt how to consume a whole Yorkie bar without taking a breath……Have also learnt to try and take a lunch break.

Have an email now too.


Day one

Bananas and smiles!

That was the order of my day. My first day started at 7:45, meeting and greeting a wonder around the building to check everyone had enjoyed their break. After teaching for many years it was certainly strange to not be preparing a class for the day ahead. I therefore empathised with the teachers who conversed with me, despite trying to set up for the day ahead. A meet and greet on the playground was next, as I attempted to meet new parents and get my face noticed. This is certainly something I will need to work on as I smiled, then defaulted to speaking to the people I am most comfortable with. The children. This is something  I will need to work on in the coming weeks. Another case of being aware of my strengths while also working on my development points.

Assembly was bananas. literally. Smiles, energy, growing together and avoiding slipping on them. Very deep for a first assembly. I spent the remainder of the morning meeting as many of the school community as possible.  I am determined to learn the names of the pupils in the school but at the end of day one I am already struggling. Plenty of time yet. Lunch involved more meeting and much more smiling.

I spent the afternoon using key questions from the book ‘The First 90 days’:

  • What are our biggest challenges?
  • Why are we facing them?
  • Where are the unexploited opportunities for development?
  • What would need to happen to develop these in school?
  • and what would be your priorities if you were me?

I plan to use these questions to build a picture from SLT as to where our areas of focus may need to be.

It was then on to looking at network cables, building plans and walls. My conclusion? I have very little to say on network cables and where to put them, let alone walls. However, I consider them reasonably important and therefore will endeavour to find someone this week who knows about network cables, switches and where to put them.

My first day has gone quick. The pace certainly picked up as the day developed and I am sure will develop further tomorrow. I was taken aback at the number of questions that I faced as the day progressed. I want to watch, listen and learn. There is however a want by people for you to act, talk and do. Again this is an area to be mindful of moving forward. Relationships with parents and how we work with the school community is integral. My reading will now take in dealing with hard to reach parents and developing the school community.

After a difficult game of Guess Who with my daughter, which involved more questions. I am now ready for bed.

The learning has only just begun. But the challenge is real. Are they wearing a hat?


‘Twas the night before Headship

It is my headship eve. The night before I take up my first Headship post. I feel that this is the second holiday I have spent thinking about this post. At Christmas it was the thought of interview and being prepared for the questions I may be asked. Easter has seen my time spent preparing, reading and visiting the school where as I was appointed, following that New Year interview.

I don’t feel nervous, scared or daunted. I feel relaxed, excited and eager to begin my new challenge. As with everything in life, I feel that I could have done more with the time I had before tomorrow. But I did what I could. Visiting the school, meeting the key staff, reading key documentation and liaising with the chair of governors. I have also done some reading, I say some as I wish I had done more. With two very young children I find reading at home a challenge. However I do feel ready.

I have been somewhat surprised at how my mind has looked for things to focus, things that I ‘think’ I should be doing. I spent a day at my new school in what will be my office. Having always worked in classrooms (or in supermarkets) I was , and still am, unsure as what to do with an office. I spent hours tidying, dusting, moving and generally filling the time. Returning home I then found myself worrying about the position I left the desk and the chairs. Over the 10 years I have taught I have started each new school or new term with my plans, timetable and overview, I have always known where I want to be by the end of that year. This is the first time there is no plan, timetable or overview. Yes I have things that need to be done, things I want to do, people I want to talk to but there is no definitive plan. I find this strangely refreshing despite not having my ‘lesson plans’. I think that this has led to my mind wondering on to less purposeful tasks.

No plan I hear you ask? Well I have an outline, a thought process and a vision. I have been reading ‘The First 90 Days’ by Micheal D. Watkins and must say I have found it particularly useful. I have identified my strengths and areas to develop. I think this is important to ensure I do not retreat to areas that I know I am already strong and therefore miss the areas that may well need developing. I also strongly agree with the fact we were given two eyes, two ears and one mouth to enable us to do twice as much watching and listening as talking. Something I feel integral to my first 90 days.

At the point of writing this my priority is relationships and accelerating my learning. I want to get to know the school community as quickly as possible. I have also started to consider the STARS situation and will apply it in the coming days to the key areas for school development. This way I hope to establish where my focus will be in the first 30 days.

Tomorrow will be my first day of headship. I have coffee, tea, biscuits, a pen and a nice new notebook. I have planned my assembly, put together my introductory staff meeting and written my first parental letter introducing myself.

I am excited, I don’t feel tired but know I must sleep, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Just like the night before Christmas.

But just like Christmas, I am ready. I’ve got this.

The Journey to headship (Part 2)

I sit in my office on the final day as a deputy. I have, over the last few weeks, been very reflective on the journey that has led me to this point. In particular where I started. My first blog last week covered the journey up to the start of a new manager and my increasing understanding of the leader I would never aspire to become.

The new store manager had been appointed as I took up my new role as chief display assistant. This move was seen as one that could ultimately lead into management with the possibility of being a store manager in the future. This was something I had given little thought to while in retail but I now considered it a possibility. Or at least I thought I did.

The new store manager was ambitious, aggressively ambitious. He dressed in powerful looking suits that were double cuffed and shaved his beard into a neat moustache. He was very clear on what he wanted. More power, more money and more success. It was his way. His vision was simple. We were to make more money as a store and work harder.  He patrolled the shop floor and warehouse like a night guard dog. His nose would twitch at the sound of shop floor chatter that was not focused on work.

Clearly we had differing approaches to work. Mine being a typical 20 year old laid back approach. His focused on career, money and power. This relationship was not going to work. I would be asked to pick litter from the floor (he was above this), I would be verbally shouted at in the warehouse to ensure others would hear his dismay at my lack of thought, I would be given a BIC razor, shaving foam and told to shave in the toilets if I was not cleanly shaven. A job I had enjoyed, found to be fun and social was now a job I hated and did not want to do. I no longer wanted to be there. My sickness record increased, I was absent often, would look for excuses to leave early and, inevitably, I became depressed.

I was never clear if it was his direction and vision or whether he simply disliked me. My job in retail now frustrated me. I felt trapped, not challenged, jobs I had enjoyed now became repetitive. My best was never good enough. There was never an end point. I would go home thinking the job was done only to return the next day and be told it was, in fact, not good enough.

The social aspect kept me going to an extent. Nights out, Christmas parties any excuse for a night or day out. But the seed was planted. I did not want to do this for the rest of my life. I did not want to one day become like this manager. I did not want a career in retail. I wanted to enjoy work.

I worked in retail for some years after this. A new manager started and my career picked up again. I enjoyed some good times in the years that followed but my mind was made up. I never again wanted to work for a manager like I had. I wanted to be one step ahead. I would ensure my work was always of the highest standard but would also ensure I would not again be pushed around so easily. I worked until I was 23 in retail. The store was closed and I was offered the chance to move into management as a trainee or take a package. It was the package all day long. This was the opportunity I had waited for and I wanted to grab it with both hands.

I was living at home still supported by two very loving parents. I returned to college, resat my GCSE’s and in 1 year secured a place at University. I had achieved more in one year than I had in several years in retail. What’s more I was enjoying it. I enjoyed learning again, I had to read and study, I spent the the hours I had worked in the library writing assignments. I felt engaged, challenged and positive about the future. I had also made a significant decision. I had decided to teach.

The next four years at university were fantastic. I was so enthused by the other students, I felt part of something and respected my teachers while often seeking their advice. The work ethic and routine i had developed in retail stuck with me. While my peers lay in bed until 3 in the afternoon, I would be in the library. I would read books, research papers, surf the net (still in its infancy at that point), even study maps and examine learning resources. I loved it.

I was studying for a degree in primary education which meant blocks of teaching practice. What more could I ask for I was working, studying and still had the most amazing social life! The teaching was amazing. I worked at amazing schools, with amazing teachers and the most incredibly supportive children. It was a fabulous four years.

I developed a style of teaching over those four years. I was creative, an actor, lively, engaging, a risk taker and loved it. I was given the opportunity to work in different environments in differing contexts. My first teaching practice was in a diverse location, with children that had a range of needs. I would never have believed that I would be back there years later. In a very different role.