Meet Headteacher Christina Singh
Meet Headteacher Christina Singh
Headteachers play a vital part in how Hertfordshire builds a close community of schools and academies across the county. The bond that schools, the local authority and Herts for Learning have with headteachers is crucial in how teaching staff, support staff and leadership teams progress their careers.
Teach in Herts spoke to Christina Singh, who has been a Headteacher in Watford for six years. She discusses how important the support has been and why people should teach in Hertfordshire…
What support do you get as a headteacher in Hertfordshire?
Hertfordshire has a history of respecting the role of Headteachers, and understanding the challenges that we face. Hertfordshire has always had a reputation of being on the front foot and that is what I love about it. Both Hertfordshire local authority and HfL respond to what is happening in a very proactive way. As a Hertfordshire headteacher, I feel at the cutting edge of what is happening in education.
There is plenty of sensible and balanced advice from Herts for Learning that I have found tremendously useful – particularly in my early stages as a headteacher. Even now, I use the support and guidance from HfL all the time, both for myself, teachers and support staff.
As a headteacher, what support do you give your teachers?
When I joined the school, I looked at what I wanted to achieve, which was outstanding learning in every classroom. We took away the teaching judgements, and, instead, we assessed learning. This encourages you as a headteacher to look at what the children are learning, rather than giving preference to a particular teaching style, and gave me the freedom to look at the impact a teacher is having.
When you interview for a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) what are the things you look for?
I want to see a passion for teaching, a willingness to learn and a level of resilience. I want to see a spark in somebody so I can really work with that person. The culture here is incredible; the whole team believe and share the same vision. This helps to motivate and retain staff, and they tell me that they can’t imagine working anywhere else.
Is that ethos shared by the senior leadership team that you have?
Within Hertfordshire, there is a real appreciation for the role all staff have in making a school a great place to work. Headteachers and senior leadership teams across Hertfordshire understand the importance of ensuring that teachers are professionally valued. They are doing an important job, often in difficult circumstances. My job is to facilitate them to do their absolute best.
How do you facilitate your staff to do their best?
When I am recruiting, the first thing I always do when I am interviewing a potential teacher or teaching assistant is talk to them and explain that I understand that this is quite a stressful situation for them, but I am not here to catch them out. I am here to catch them doing their best. Right from the start I make sure to meet new members of staff, give them time and get to know them. All my staff or pupils can speak to me at any moment – the door is always open.
What is available to help staff progress their careers?
There are so many training and development opportunities in Hertfordshire through Herts for Learning or school to school exchanges. We are rich in knowledge and resources. Most importantly, it is about building relationships and making sure that you are involving that person in any discussions about their development.
We have had 4 teaching assistants train to become qualified teachers. It is great to see that transition and they have brought so much skill and experience to the classroom.
What experiences can you give children outside of the classroom?
Being in Hertfordshire and so close to London but not being in the centre of the city, gives us the best of both worlds. We are in a location where we have plenty of green spaces around us. This is great for the health and wellbeing of the children.
Most recently the children had the opportunity to interview the Minister for Education and see the debating areas and MPs at the House of Commons. We look for as many amazing opportunities for them as possible.
Lastly, why would you recommend becoming a headteacher in Hertfordshire?
I think that being a headteacher is the most exciting job that anyone could ever have. It is hugely varied and you will never, ever get bored. It is a challenging job; you have to be very good at plate spinning.
Being a headteacher in Hertfordshire gives you the best chance of success because you have the support mechanisms in place. I recently did my executive headteacher training and the quality of the continuing professional development was really high. It challenged my thinking, made me self-analyse and evaluate. I now have a much clearer understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. It is about the professional dialogue that you get in Hertfordshire, which is fantastic and unique.