I started teaching when I was 5. I remember my sister, 2 years my junior, being extremely indignant that I had gone to school without her, so each tea-time the dolls and teddies would be lined up next to her with my home-made register, reading books and work cards ready for her next lesson. She was reading fluently by the time she was 3 ½ and thus started my love for teaching.
My Mum and Dad were teachers, both pioneers in their approach and both fiercely focussed on putting the child at the centre of learning. They sought to lead every child to the kernel of every subject and artform, not to mimic and copy what had already been discovered, painted, composed, or written, but for the child to choreograph, to paint the original, to compose for themselves, to discover and experiment and to find out. My Dad said that it was a teacher’s job to teach a child how to learn for themselves, my Mum was passionate about experiential learning, independence, and quality literature. I loved listening to them and their teacher friends discussing curriculum and education policy and I carefully stored up ideas and philosophy, like precious nuggets.
My first teaching job was in the Himalayan country of Bhutan, where my lovely Aunt, another pioneer, was Superintendent of the Leprosy Hospital. There were 18 children of the staff workers that needed a teacher, so off I went in my gap year after A-Levels. The children were aged between 4 and 13 and couldn’t speak English. I was to teach English and simple Maths to them 5 ½ days per week. Needless to say, I learned just as much from them as they did from me, but this experience clearly cemented my love of teaching, and I went off to Bishop Grosseteste Teacher Training College with a thousand questions and a huge appetite for expertise.
In my fourth year of teaching college, they started using me to train first year students and I encountered another passion; to train teachers well. So, in my first year of ‘real’ teaching, the college bussed history students to my classroom to work with my class. I helped them to plan history lessons and experiences that would make the subject come alive. We had so much fun, it became clear to me that when training teachers, if you could light up their passions and creativity to make children’s learning irresistible, everyone won.
Here is a brief synopsis of my positions and experiences:
- 1989 Responsible for a school of 18 children aged 4 ½ to 13 in Bhutan in the Himalayas
- 1992 Qualified as a teacher BA(Hons)QTS, from Bishop Grosseteste College of Education, Lincoln
- First Teaching Post Wales Junior and Infants School, Rotherham
- 1994 Promoted to Senior Leadership Team / English and Music Lead/Student Mentor, Dinnington Infants and Nursery School, Rotherham
- 1998 Took time out for my own 3 children
- 2003 Chair of Governors, Strong Close Nursery, Keighley
- 2004 Part Time Lecturer, Bradford College (working with undergraduates)
- 2005 Deputy Head Teacher, Hirst Wood Nursery School and Children’s Centre
- 2007 ECERS Audit Trained
- 2008 Freelance Consultant
- 2011 Co-Wrote, ‘Time of Our Lives’ book on developing outdoor Play (part of the Bradford Hands on Learning Series)
- 2012 Joined Early Excellence National Consultant Team to write their Outdoors and Principles into Practice programmes, piloted their outdoor resources and led programmes in several Local Education Authorities
- Vice Chair Governors, One in a Million Secondary School
- Chair of Governors, Bradford Christian School
- 2015 Opened business in current building, offering training and meeting space, interactive classroom model and shop
- 2017 Sponsored by Provident Financial Group to write and deliver our hugely successful Leading Children into Mastery and Leading Children into Mastery Programmes
- 2023 Since becoming a freelance consultant I have now worked in over 90% of Bradford’s Primary and Nursery Schools, and in 15 other Local Education Authorities across England, including schools in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Humberside, Merseyside, West Midlands, and Kent.
- I have taken Reciprocal Reading into 6 Secondary Schools in Bradford as well as a plethora of Primary Schools
- We have a multitude of courses running while supporting MATs, LAPs, individual LEA’s and schools
- Later this year, we hope to publish my next book, on the power of Small World play.