What made you get involved in the College of Teaching?
In short, to rescue an education system which has the potential to be world class. The College of Teaching is long overdue.
‘Change fatigue’ exists in all levels of teaching due to the number of new initiatives, which have been imposed on teaching since the first National Curriculum. We have subsequently seen changes come thick and fast and I think over time this has resulted in a huge lack of confidence amongst teachers and the current recruitment and retention crisis that we face. And yet, teachers are the experts.
On a personal level, my Dad had to leave school unqualified at the age of 14 in order to earn money for his family and my mum moved from rural Ireland aged 16 to train as a nurse in England. For them, education was everything and they instilled my sister and I with a work ethic and a belief in education.
I am also aware, having moved to Cumbria some 10 years ago, of the disparity between training opportunities offered between north and south, rural, urban and city. I have taught in all of these types of schools. We deserve fairness of opportunity because the children in our care deserve the same opportunities regardless of their postcode.
How do you combine the role of Vice-Chair with being a primary school teacher?
...And a Mum. Plate juggling comes as standard with the role of primary school teacher. Board meetings occur once a month so my husband looks after the children while I head off from Penrith Station at the ungodly hour of 5.15am.
I prepare papers to feed back to the Board regarding developments in current communications projects, as do the other committee chairs. I recently organised the conference in Sheffield and plan to assist in others around the country.
Fitting it all in is a challenge and has been an enormous learning curve. As I said at my Trustee interview last September, I want to give the view of what the everyday teacher would make of what we are planning so that we stay grounded. Sometimes that means saying no and requires us to refine what we’re doing.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the College?
There are many: getting the message to as many teachers as we can, getting our membership proposal right, bringing the respect back to teaching and tackling the issues which are affecting teachers directly. We need to bring parity to training and enhance teacher practice with evidence-informed CPD.
In short, we at the College of Teaching must be 'fit for purpose' and flexible enough to adapt with the needs of real teachers. We have never so needed a united spirit and the combined experience of so many to come together to unpick the tangle which education has become. Feet firmly placed on the ground, I’m in for the long haul. I hope other teachers will join us.