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 Helen Melidoro, who has been Headteacher for three years. She discusses how important the support has been and why people should teach in Hertfordshire…
How did you get into teaching and what has your career looked like so far?
I had an unconventional route into the teaching profession. My first career was in Human Resources working for the doctors' trade union, the BMA but, once I had my children, I started volunteering in schools and caught the teaching bug!
After completing a PGCE at University of Hertfordshire, I was fortunate to start my teaching career at Broxbourne CE Primary in 2005 with the late Shirley Whales as my Headteacher and mentor. As she did with many of her staff, she encouraged me to continue my studies; training as a SENCo and middle leader, teaching across all phases before becoming Deputy Headteacher in 2016. I might have stopped there but I took the plunge into headship (having just started my NPQH) in 2019 - little knowing that 2 years of which would be in a pandemic! The school was Requires Improvement and it was undeniably a steep learning curve but a wonderful place to work and develop as a leader. Following a successful Good Ofsted judgment and SIAMS inspection, I was encouraged again to step into a larger school, becoming Headteacher at Morgans in April 2022 and am happily getting to know all 380 children!
What do you love about working in Hertfordshire?
I have only taught in Hertfordshire but have friends teaching in other authorities who say how lucky I am to have the support of Herts for Learning and HCC - never more so than during the COVID years. Whilst schools are at liberty to source advice from any provider, I really appreciate the value Herts for Learning can bring to all aspects of school leadership. Hertfordshire has an enviable reputation both in training and developing its teachers but also developing the leaders of tomorrow!
As a Headteacher, what are you looking for when you recruit new staff?
Recruitment starts with the first visit to the school. I believe that visiting a school before making an application demonstrates an applicant's investment in the selection process but also ensures that the school is right for them also. Recruitment is a two way process and it is important for any applicant to get a flavour of the school's ethos, the children and staff before applying. Viewing during a normal school day should help you decide if the school is a match for you. My advice on completing the application form would be to match your evidence to the person specification and give examples of how you have demonstrated this knowledge or skill. Make your application stand out with headings, bullet points and evidence of the impact you have made on teaching and learning.
Do you have any advice for those starting out as teachers?
Your job list will never be complete! Teaching is a job that can overwhelm you if you think you need to achieve everything on your to-do list. My advice would be to prioritise, put the children's learning at the forefront, be organised but equally know that sometimes you just have to deviate from the plan and trust your instinct! Most of all, I would say enjoy the small wins, ask colleagues for help and advice and, most importantly, enjoy making a difference!
Do you have any advice for those looking to move into leadership?
Leadership is not a qualification or achieved by teaching for a finite number of years. I believe that talking to colleagues, being reflective and open to new opportunities will take you to leadership at every level. Don't think because you are either too young, too old or lack that certain qualification that you cannot move into leadership. I was fortunate to have a mentor that inspired me to keep learning so my advice would be to find that someone who has faith in you and take the leap into Headship - you'll never look back!