Sunday, 16 August 2015

What might have been.

One of life’s great imponderables is “what might have been”. It is the key question when a friendship ends, or you "give up" on a hobby or you look for and then find a new job. In a sense the entire course of my life was irrevocably altered by about three key events. Each time I found myself bounced into a parallel life and although I have been happy enough, even in hindsight, with almost all the key decisions I made there were a few where I possibly took a wrong turning.

A Level options at school - I think my school should have offered me careers advice before I had to decided what 3 A levels to study. In the 1970s wrong choices made at 16 could, and did, rule out vast numbers of degree courses and their associated careers. It was only some years later that I discovered via aptitude tests that a legal career would have suited my "skill set" far better than the route I had chosen to go down but by then it would have been both expensive and time-consuming to change direction.

When my degree was finished - If Nottingham University did offer career advice I never heard anything about it. Looking back teaching was such an obvious career path but I never considered it until after I had spent three unhappy years working in the food industry. What I should have done was to study for my PGCE in 1976-77, done my NQT year in a school and perhaps then gone into Further Education lecturing.

In my first teaching job - I didn't realise until far too late that being a good or excellent teacher was not enough on its own to ensure promotion. Playing office politics and choosing carefully when and how to raise my public profile was far more important than was the work I was paid to do!  What I needed was a mentor and sadly I didn't realise it.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

My working life - part 2

Daventry Tertiary College - Northamptonshire (1990-2000)

THE COMMUTE
It was less than 3 walk from our home to the college - 5/5

SENIOR STAFF
If you have a Principal with no interest in education, his staff or the students attending the college then a low score is almost inevitable. Once you realise that most of the Senior Leadership Team were "cut from the same timber" the score awarded is hardly going to be a surprise - 0/5

COLLEAGUES
I made some quite good friends during my 10 years although I am only still in touch with one of them. The divide and rule tactics of the Bosses suckered some nice people into behaving like total fruitcakes. Endemic bad practice seemed to go unchecked - 2/5

THE WORK
I enjoyed teaching and in Further Education in the 1990s there was still far less government interference in teaching than was routine in schools - 5/5

LEAVING EVENT
I arranged it and carefully selected those who were invited - and those who were not! - 3/5

TOTAL SCORE 15/25

WORST PART
The steady decline in the Conditions of Service.

THE BEST PART
Gaining the experience and the qualifications that allowed me to escape into the school sector where my salary and my holiday entitlement both went up rather fast.


Guilsborough School - Northamptonshire (2000-2004)

THE COMMUTE
It was about a 20 minute drive to the school and hence the longest commute of my working life - 4/5

SENIOR STAFF
The Head Teacher was superb and the other senior staff nearly as good. They cared about the kids and about the welfare of all their staff - 5/5

COLLEAGUES
It was harder to make friends as a Head of Department than I  realised when I took on the role. I had some first rate staff, some who were just about OK and one (HV) who was hopeless - 3/5

THE WORK
I enjoyed teaching Key Stage 5 but I loathed all the marking in Key Stage 4 - 4/5

LEAVING EVENT
As previously I arranged it and carefully selected those who were invited - and those who were not! - 4/5

TOTAL SCORE 20/25

WORST PART
The marking involved in the GCSE in ICT.

THE BEST PART
Having the highest added-value score in the history of the school for my year 13 ICT students - top in the country for their average grade!