It’s half term, so the learners aren’t in. As it happens, when you rang I was talking to another office about an invoice. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with the back office stuff. But when the students are here, they’re my first priority.
I’m Director of Academic Studies for the group. So I’m aiming to help every student achieve at the highest level. Much of this is done through teams, and teams within teams, but we all share the same goal, the same collective ambition. That ambition has been forged by all stakeholders – staff, student, parents, schools, the community. What matters is the quality agenda: raising students’ aspirations, and giving them control of their future. We aim to give them confidence, enable social mobility and maximise their future wellbeing.
I have a background in sport. I was a PE teacher and then head of faculty in a large comprehensive school. And I’ve always coached rugby.
I joined Runshaw College in 2003 and I’ve worked in the sector ever since.
I started in a senior management role at Runshaw College in Lancashire. I took it because it was an opportunity to advance my career but still be hands-on. Then out of the blue I was headhunted by Cornwall College, to help develop an agenda of excellence. Lancashire to Cornwall was a massive move and a big decision for the whole family. The variety, the size and the complexity has been a fantastic challenge and it’s paid off.
I cycle to work early, to avoid the traffic. My office is in the middle of both student and staff areas, and I have an open-door policy. There are often leadership meetings or other meetings. The most important thing about leadership is modelling behaviour, so I am constantly visible and hands-on while still providing direction. There’s plenty more in the day, from assemblies and advice sessions to working with universities. My days are full-on, busy and interactive.
Helping other people with their challenges. It’s a coaching role: providing support and clarity, and intervening where necessary, so that everyone can do their very best.
The interaction and the visibility, whether it’s one-to-one or one-to-many.
I wanted to progress but also to stay hands-on in terms of contact with students. I was headhunted into my role, which is always flattering. There was a great match with my values. I love sport, I love physical activity, I love education and I just can’t see myself doing anything else.
The ultimate goal hasn’t changed, although roles do. The curriculum has evolved, rightly for the most part, and it should continue to evolve to be up-to-date and fit for purpose. There are always demands in terms of funding and time, and my role is about managing these pressures, and where necessary protecting my teams from them so they can carry on helping their students.
I genuinely love my job. I love the challenge. Life is all about challenge. Sometimes you fail, so you try again. And you say “come on, have another go” and that builds resilience.
You’d be enthusiastic and passionate. You’d love interacting with people. You’d be motivated by challenge and by success. A great example – I love A Level results day. It’s the culmination of a lot of work and a great reward for so many students.
“How can I be better tomorrow?” If I ever plateau, I’ll give up.
Just do it. Don’t listen to the naysayers. It’s a very privileged role – you’re enhancing people’s lives. And seek support – we’re a great team and we all offer one another terrific help and advice. There’s a great pleasure in seeing colleagues working with students at the coalface – they are a huge inspiration.