Cynthia is Headteacher at How Wood Primary School & Nursery in St Albans. We asked her about her career so far.
Can you describe your journey into teaching?
I became a teacher in my late thirties after realising my vocation whilst working as a learning support assistant for a child with cerebral palsy. It wasn't a simple journey as I first had to gain maths GCSE (I had failed this at school) and following that, complete an access course. I had three young children at the time, and it took me three years to achieve the qualifications I needed before embarking on a 4-year BEd. I became a deputy head four years after qualifying, a role I enjoyed for eight years before becoming a headteacher.
What support do you get as a headteacher in Hertfordshire?
In my first year of headship, my school subscribed to Herts for Learning's Headteachers' Induction package. I had training specific to my role and had a mentor who supported me throughout the year. My HIP (Herts Improvement Partner) was also a great support and was at the end of the phone to offer advice at all times. St Albans has a head teacher consortium who meet monthly and this was, and still is, a great support network.
As a headteacher, what are you looking for when recruiting new teachers?
I look for teachers who have a passion for education that includes a commitment to delivering creative, culturally inclusive learning for the children they will teach. They must have high expectations for all children and understand that although teaching is a demanding job the rewards are immense.
What support is available to staff at your school?
Mental health and wellbeing are of the highest priority in my school for children and staff. Every member of staff has employee assistance cover which entitles them to a vast range of support, both professional and personal. CPD is crucial factor in ensuring staff feel supported in their work and HfL offers a plethora of training which is offered to all members of the team. New staff have a detailed induction and if needed, are mentored by a senior staff member.
Is there any additional support available to school staff from minority backgrounds?
We believe in equity and equality - inclusion. Everyone is valued and represented in the curriculum subjects, in resources and in the environment. We celebrate difference and promote equity and equality in all that we do. Staff are encouraged to join forums that are specific to their needs such as the recently formed School Staff B.A.M.E. Forum.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out as teachers?
My advice would be to keep the children at the centre of everything you do. Be friendly, polite, kind and honest. Have integrity and stand by what you believe. Work hard and laugh a lot 🙂