Focus: Literacy & English
Favourite Educationalist: Daniel Willingham
Favourite Book: When Kids Can’t Read by Kylene Beers.
One thing I’d change: Reading intervention needs to be earlier and more effective, and it needs to address the individual needs of the child: decoding, fluency, vocabulary development, building background knowledge, comprehension and/or disengagement.
Why I teach: I am wildly enthusiastic about reading and learning, and truly enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for books and knowledge with young people and colleagues. I want to make a difference, so I particularly relish the opportunity to work with reluctant and struggling readers. I also love the intellectual stimulation and collegiality of the education world with teachers sharing ideas, developing their practice based on research and always searching for ways to improve their teaching.
Focus: English & PE
Favourite Educationalist: Doug Lemov, Christine Counsell and Daisy Christodoulou
Favourite Book: Teach Like a Champion and Seven Myths About Education
One thing I’d change: I would change the culture (understandably so) around observation and teacher development. Genuine improvement in practice is only possible when teachers are comfortable enough to share areas of development and engage in the process of improvement.
Why I teach: My own experience of school and the ability to influence others; I want all pupils to have an education that provides the opportunities to choose what they want to do.
Focus: Science & Mathematics
Favourite Educationalist: Doug Lemov and Oliver Caviglioli
Favourite Book: Seven Myths About Education by Daisy Christodoulou and Understanding How We Learn by Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki, and Oliver Caviglioli.
One thing I’d change: This bad habit schools have of 'funnelling' everything towards an exam or a test of some sort. I'm not completely sure it's just down to accountability alone and I'd like the children to enjoy learning for learning's sake.
Why I teach: It became a possibility once I started doing my English and Creative Writing degree, but then I thought that no one wants to learn about Shakespeare from an Italian! It was only when I did my science degree that it all fell into place. Essentially, I just want children to gain as much of my knowledge as they can, so that they can take part in the big conversations of the world.
Focus: Secondary English
Favourite Educationalist: Mary Myatt
Favourite Book: Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up by Ken Robinson
One thing I’d change: Behavioural re-education: too often there is still an archaic approach to behaviour which isolates far too many students by punishing them for not adhering to rules that aren’t fit for purpose if you take into account a wide range of additional needs. Too often we address symptoms, not causes.
Why I teach: The opportunity to create positive change, have an impact, and wax lyrical about literature and language.
Focus: Primary Supply
Favourite Educationalist: Brené Brown
Favourite Book: When the Adults Change Everything Changes by Paul Dix
One thing I’d change: I would like to see more staff in schools to ensure all children get the support, experiences and guidance they need in order to achieve.
Why I teach: I always wanted to be a teacher, I really enjoy working with others and learning new things. For me I really enjoyed primary school and wanted to pass that on to others. I stay in teaching because I like working with everyone in the education community (children, families and teachers) and making a difference in people’s lives.
Favourite Educationalist: Mary Myatt, Allistair Bryce-Clegg, Ruth Miskin and a personal one Nicola Jones.
Favourite Book: The Chimp Paradox: Mind Management by Steve Peters. Mining for Gold: Stories of Effective Teachers by Fergal Roche.
One thing I’d change: Smaller class sizes to improve individualised learning.
Why I teach: I believe every child deserves a teacher who supports them in becoming the best version of themselves. I knew I wanted to be a teacher who believed that every single child can achieve and succeed with the right teaching. A quote I stick to is ‘If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn’.
Focus: English Lead, Drama, Art, Creative Writing
Favourite Educationalist: I have particularly liked reading research and articles by Margaret Meek, Alex Quigley, Michael Rosen, Aidan Chambers, Maryanne Wolf and many more!
Favourite Book: The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
One thing I’d change: The seemingly endless amount of pointless paperwork!
Why I teach: Seeing my Mum teach when I was doing my work experience. I loved working with the children, reading to them and all the wonderful art activities they took part in while I was there.
Dr Iro Konstantinou
Focus: Student engagement & Well-being
Favourite Educationalist: Vygotsky, Professor Chris Brown
Favourite Book: Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore's work on the teenage brain
One thing I’d change: This is tough because I don't think there is one single thing that can make a lot of difference.
Why I teach: It is fascinating to be able to inspire young minds and see how they develop. It makes me wonder what I would have done differently if I had different teachers.
Why I teach: I started because I wanted to be a force for change and help be one of the adults in children's lives that shows them that they are valued and can achieve. I stayed because the children showed me that I am valued and can achieve!
Focus: Psychology, Leadership, Disadvantage
Favourite Educationalist: Confucius
Favourite Book: The Bridge to Brilliance by Nadia Lopez
One thing I’d change: If I could change one thing it would be to provide a system that can rise above social reproduction, ensuring that any person, from any background really can achieve their true potential.
Why I teach: As the (slightly annoying) eldest of four siblings, I have always been intrigued with supporting, nurturing and challenging others. I enjoyed opportunities to apply this as a sports coach and play-scheme leader in England and Italy, identifying potential and providing the right environment, enabling each individual to flourish. I eventually decided to pursue a career in teaching. I feel privileged to have had the pleasure to work with so many incredible young people and colleagues, encouraging growth and achievement in others. Throughout my career I have been particularly drawn to pastoral leadership, often working with students in the most challenging of circumstances striving to provide equality of access, not just opportunity.
Focus: Business & Economics, Computing
Favourite Educationalist: Paul Kirschner and Mary Myatt
Favourite Book: Why Don't Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham and Seven Myths about Education by Daisy Christodoulou.
One thing I’d change: I would like to see more long term strategic thinking in schools and less 'quick fix' initiatives being implemented which add to teacher workload and are not given time to have an impact.
Why I teach: I fell into teaching by accident really, I wanted to be a solicitor but after some work experience found it to be too office based for me; I wanted something that involved being around people and not sat behind a desk. A careers advisor at uni suggested teaching and so I enrolled on a PGCE course and fell in love with teaching.
Focus: English language and literature
Favourite Educationalist: Rob Coe for his clear-mindedness about the uses and limitations of applying evidence to practice.
Favourite Book: The Science of Learning by Busch and Watson (2019)
One thing I’d change: Beyond teaching them knowledge and skills, schools should teach children the importance of creating a life that has meaning and purpose for them.
Why I teach: I want to see children flourish.
Focus: SEND, Inclusion
Favourite Educationalist: Plato
Favourite Book: Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson
One thing I’d change: I would widen the Arts/Cultural learning opportunities in school.
Why I teach: I was fortunate to have some inspirational teachers who provided opportunities and support in making your hopes a reality regardless of background or educational starting point.
Favourite Educationalist: Chris Dyson, Paul Dix, Naomi Churchill
Favourite Book: When Adults Change, Everything Changes by Paul Dix
One thing I’d change: the government and their lack of understanding of education
Why I teach: School was always a safe place for me when I was growing up. I loved being in school, I was able to escape! I have always wanted to make a difference to young people and want to inspire children to be anything they want to be. My mum was a teacher and the most amazing woman I ever met and have had a continuous drive to make her proud.
Focus: ESOL & Literacy
Favourite Educationalist: Sue Cowley
Favourite Book: Getting the Buggers to Behave
One thing I’d change: I would change the perception of neurodiversity, turning it from a 'problem' to mitigate into a strength to celebrate.
Why I teach: My love of books and the mechanics of grammar. I've always believed that change begins at home, and growing up poor in South London led me to focus on these communities.
Focus: History & Curriculum Leader
Favourite Educationalist: Rebecca Allen
Favourite Book: Making Every History Lesson Count by Chris Runeckles
One thing I’d change: Unquestionably the high-stakes accountability regime imposed in many schools, in the belief that this will get them ‘through OFSTED’. In particular, the need for evidence – evidence of impact, evidence of marking, evidence of progress, evidence that a particular policy is being followed – is wasting enormous amounts of precious teacher time and causing many good people to leave, something we can ill-afford in the current climate. I think most teachers actually like working hard, but the meaningless workload imposed on us is highly frustrating.
Why I teach: I never set out to be a teacher initially and only decided to join the profession after university when faced with that awful question ‘What on earth do I do now?’. What drew me in was a desire to share my love of my subject and a fear that many other jobs that I could do would involve being stuck behind a computer all day, not talking to anyone and clock-watching. Despite some bumps on the way, I haven’t regretted that decision.
Focus: anything Primary
Favourite Educationalist: I like to steal the bits I like from many sources and amalgamate them ALL together in one big hotchpotch that has become my own beliefs and practice.
Favourite Book: 7 myths about Education by Daisy Christolodou
One thing I’d change: Politics interfering with decision making. The thing I would change is to enforce a rule that all decisions made in a school should start – and end with the simple question: what is best for the children?
Why I teach: My eldest son! I left University and one month later was pregnant with him so thoughts of becoming an international opera singer and travelling the world were put on hold….permanently. When Joshua started school, he had a teacher who, very clearly did NOT like children. I had already done some work covering music classes and knew I loved the classroom. Seeing him unhappy made me think I could do better – so I applied for teacher training with a 5 year old, 4 year old and 2 year old in tow. I have never regretted it – even when times were really tough. I was meant to be a teacher.
Focus: Drama, then Pastoral Leader
Favourite Educationalist: All the amazing teachers I have worked with over the years who have made me say 'ah that makes more sense'
Favourite Book: A Guide to Attachment and How it Can Affect People's Lives.
One thing I’d change: I'd bring back quality B.Ed's
Why I teach: I suppose I fell into teaching. After an ok run at school, I applied for degree courses in my first love, theatre. It just so happened that the best course on offer, at the best university (by a beach) was a B.Ed. By far the most rewarding decision I ever made. I moved back to the midlands and am now dedicated to providing better life chances to the young people in the area I have grown up in and love. To prove that your beginnings do not dictate your final destination.
Lucy Starbuck Braidley
Favourite Educationalist: I enjoy reading a wide range of research, books and opinions on twitter and I like to draw inspiration from a wide base.
Favourite Book: My most recent read has been Closing the Vocabulary Gap by Alex Quigley.
One thing I’d change: Definitely the manner in which some schools monitor and evaluate teachers and teaching - I feel there are more positive and empowering ways of going about that. Also I think high stakes testing is unnecessary at best and has the potential to be damaging for child and teachers at worst. I also hate to hear of schools squeezing foundation subjects and definitely think there are ways around that.
Why I teach: I had my first child and desperately didn't want to go back to my marketing job. I felt that if I had to be away from her to work then I ought to be doing something I loved and something I felt was worthwhile. It has its stressful moments but teaching is definitely more rewarding than trying to increase washing up liquid sales!
Focus: Alternative Provision, Coaching, Behaviour, History, Literacy
Favourite Educationalist: Ian Gilbert
Favourite Book: Mindset by Carol Dweck
One thing I’d change: A return to the belief in education that Every Child Matters. This needs a move away from education through division, labelling, winners/losers, pass/fail & exclusion towards education built on positive relationships, connections, inclusion, empathy & compassion.
Why I teach: My passion for learning generally (History & English in particular) and my belief that education changes lives and ultimately the world.
Focus: English & Literacy
Favourite Educationalist: John West-Burham, Michael Fullan, Daisy Christodoulou, Clare Sealy and Christine Counsell
Favourite Book: Making Good Progress by Daisy Christodoulou; Making Every English Lesson Count by Andy Tharby
One thing I’d change: School funding - so that more money can be spent on home-school partnership work, mental health and early intervention/family support. No child should have their education limited because of disadvantage.
Why I teach: I teach to make a difference to young people and their families through a quality curriculum, expert teaching and cultural enrichment.
Favourite Educationalist: Prof. Teresa Cremin, Darren Chetty and Prof. Becky Francis.
Favourite Book: Leading the Use of Research and Evidence in Schools edited by Chris Brown. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala.
One thing I’d change: Every school to have a great school library that is properly funded and has a qualified librarian.
Why I teach: Wanting to improve life chances of young people and, as cliché as it sounds, make a positive difference.
Focus: Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
Favourite Educationalist: Mark McCourt - his ideas on the mastery model of teaching are fascinating.
Favourite Book: Stop Talking and Start Influencing by Jared Cooney Hovarth.
One thing I’d change: Greater opportunities for primary and secondary colleagues to work closer together so it is less of a ’them v us’ culture.
Why I teach: It is something I always wanted to do, since I was in primary school. I was drawn in by the knowledge that my teachers had on all subjects and the ability to pass it on. I would sooner realise that my upbringing was far from the ’norm’ and I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to have a great start in life.
Favourite Educationalist: Harry Fletcher-Wood
Favourite Book: Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan
One thing I’d change: I would improve the support offered to teachers, particularly those new to the profession. I want to see better induction programmes, improved professional development and more funding to support progression.
Why I teach: I was previously working in academic publishing but I hated the monotony of office life; teaching offered a career where no one day is the same. I not only love my subject, but I also love the process of teaching and the science behind education. Oh, and the holidays, obviously…
Focus: Special Education
Favourite Educationalist: Vygotsky and Bell Hooks
Favourite Book: Mind in Society, Teaching Community and Teaching to Transcend
One thing I’d change: I would like young people to be acknowledged within the process of education as opposed to being viewed as passive vessels to be filled with knowledge that is then measured. The current drivers (appear) to be ones that view the notion of financial viability as being the only valued outcome of education. To shift this culture so that the process is one that humanises and transforms young people so that they can value, and be valued as a member of society.
Why I teach: I have family members who have had special educational needs. I also have dyslexia and have had a mixed experience of education. I was initially unsure if it was a field that I wanted to work within, but have found the experience as an educator one where you can have real, positive impact
Favourite Educationalist: my children
Favourite Book: Dandylion by Lizzie Finley
One thing I’d change: Firstly I would abolish 100% attendance awards and replace them will resilience, kindness or persistence awards. I would nurture an environment where children are rewarded for working hard and celebrated for things within their locus of control. Secondly, I would make EHCP’s live up to their name and include health and social care.
Why I teach: After the publication of my first book, The Skies I’m Under, I began teaching professionals about communication and co-production with parents of children with SEND. As the parent of 3 children, one with complex needs, I have lived experience into the impact of effective communication with families, especially around how children with SEND are included and valued.
Focus: English & Dyslexia support
Favourite Educationalist: Sue Cowley or Dylan William
Favourite Book: Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore.
One thing I’d change: Recognition that adolescence is an additional learning need (and probably the worst time of life to take exams).
Why I teach: It was pure serendipity. I was unemployed and this led to an offer to study at a local FE college. A couple of the lecturers on my course told me that I would make a good teacher. It turns out that a little confidence in your students can go a very long way.
Focus: Behaviour for learning (particular interest in role of schools in response to current society challenges presented by youth violence)
Favourite Educationalist: Ross McGill (@teachertoolkit) He has had significant influence supporting and championing teachers as well as moving education agendas forward.
Favourite Book: The Lazy Teacher Handbook by Jim Smith (@thelazyteacher)
One thing I’d change: Performance measures – say no more…..
Why I teach: My interest in working with young people stems from, as a teenager, coaching sports in International Summer Schools. A brief spell, after university, working in the City highlighted that the business world was not for me, and so teaching beckoned. Training in some particularly challenging schools in Manchester defined my career from the outset – for me teaching is not about the A*, 9s or whatever the current attainment measure is, it’s about optimising the individual progress of each student, developing their aspiration, and ensuring they leave school as confident individuals equipped to achieve future success
Focus: Computer Science
Favourite Educationalist: Becky Allen
Favourite Book: What Does This Look Like In The Classroom: Bridging The Gap Between Research And Practice by Carl Hendrick & Robin Macpherson
One thing I’d change: Easy! I'd increase the amount of money schools get.
Why I teach: When I was in the third year of university and vaguely looking for jobs, I only knew I didn't want to work in an office. I was chatting to someone in the pub who told me they were considering teaching, and from there I started to look into it as a profession. I interviewed that Easter and started my PGCE in September, 6 months after deciding it sounded like an alright career. Now though, I couldn't imagine doing anything else!