Joining the dots

After completing a degree at the University of Bristol, I spent a year working as a Learning Support Assistant for young adults in Bromley College, where I supported teenagers, some of whom at 16 years old were illiterate. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures, so to meet young people who had no literary access was really upsetting; I had never imagined that children in the UK could leave school without being able to read. However, my decision to be a teacher was made almost ten years prior to that, when I was fifteen years old. I had an inspirational GCSE RE teacher, whom I found utterly fascinating- Mrs Nazareth. She smelt of talcum powder and spray -painted her shoes to match her outfits – and more to the point , knew how to motivate young people.

When I collected my GCSE RE results I was struck by how satisfying it felt to have worked hard to achieve success. It was the first time I had felt really proud of myself and I wanted to help others enjoy that feeling. Following my year in Bromley College I began a difficult journey training to be a teacher and qualified in 2005.

After three years teaching in Primary School, I decided I wanted to spend some time teaching abroad and acquired CELTA qualification, which enabled me to teach English as an additional language. It was during this training I realised how much I now understood the process of how people learn and how much I loved teaching. I qualified with an A grade pass, which only 5 % of people did at the time.

After a few months teaching English to adults and a summer teaching in California, I returned to the primary sector, where in our multicultural society I employed many techniques I had learned, and continue to do so.

On my return from the States I took a supply role covering a maternity leave in a school in Poplar. It was here I had my first taste of real teaching success and under the care of a fantastic manager flourished in a school for the first time. I was working for the late executive head, Amanda Philips, and after a year teaching in year 1 , found myself entrusted with Year 6 for two years.

It was in this school that I received some personal development which piqued my interest in the psychology of success. I became fascinated in what made people successful and resilient and how education could develop these qualities in children. It was also here that I became familiar with teaching philosophy for children, which is something I aim to bring to Dulwich Village soon.

The year 6 team had great results – I still remember being completely overwhelmed when I realised that 85% of my class were writing at Level 5. This was when writing was assessed in a test. These were children for whom English was an additional language, living on an estate in East London. Some of their parents couldn’t speak English but their children would start Secondary School, working a year above age expected levels.

I left Amanda in search of a greater life work balance.  After 4 years working as in intervention teacher preparing groups of children for SATS at both 7 and 11, I spent a year working as a  reading leader where I developed my knowledge of phonics and how children begin their journey as readers. Around this time I began tutoring and through word of mouth recommendations, my tutoring work rapidly grew until I was able to work part-time in schools and then eventually tutor full- time employing the breadth of experience I had enjoyed over my career.

Teaching is where I thrive and therefore where those I teach do too, within the mutually interdependent relationship of teaching and learning.