Back to Where it Started

Recently, I went back to where I started my teaching career. I met up with a former colleague, Andy.

He joined the history team in my second year. We operated within a humanities faculty, and I, as a mature entrant, was Head of History. There was another NQT, who taught humanities. This was 1980 and pre-National Curriculum, so we were true curriculum designers. We were also responsible for the introduction of A level history, and part of the second year (year 8) pastoral team. The school was the only secondary school in the town, and at the heart of the community.

Today with the many new housing developments, it has increased from 720 to over 1100 students. Andy was able to arrange a quick tour for us – the school had changed considerably, but we noted our classrooms still looked the same and the stairs leading up to them had certainly not been refurbished. Following our visit we met with six other former colleagues.

Once we had got over how each of us had aged, the conversation turned to former colleagues, the students, and the experiences we had shared. Time flew past, and I took away the following:

  • The passion we all had for teaching. No one regretted their choice of career. Two colleagues were still volunteers in the school despite being in their seventies.
  • How close and supportive the staff were. It was a great school to start your career and get the guidance and support from experienced colleagues.
  • How well the staff knew the young people and their families. Most of the staff had lived within the community. I had not – mine was a 45 minute commute. As we went to get drinks, we were stopped by former students, who were happy to tell their stories. I lost count of the thank yous and other warm comments. We had made a difference.
  • The number of activities that we had organised for the students. Every year group had a history field trip with the highlight being the trip to Wales to study the Castles of Edward I for O level and GCE. I had forgotten that I organised a football trip to Ipswich to see them play West Ham – for one former colleague it was her first and only football match. The photographs of the annual fete, the Christmas Show, and the various mufti-days were hilarious.
  • The difference the leadership of the school made.

All of this reaffirmed to me that “teachers make lives”. It’s not about structures, but relationships.

As I left, I asked would they go into teaching today, and the general response was ‘no’. The ‘nos’ were related to the system, including decline in teacher training and the lack of recognition for the work of teachers.

I’m grateful that my first post in teaching was with such a great bunch of staff, who loved working with young people. It gave me a wonderful foundation for my teaching career.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Raising your concerns with MPs

29 June 2023

Principled Leadership: Reflections from the SSAT Primary Conference 2023

4 July 2023