Partner Profiles (ID 1237)
Learning with compassion and empathy
Tamatha's wish to work with children became reality when she joined Hightown as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) in 2003. Her long term commitment to the school comes from her 'love of the children and their different characters' and the sense of being part of a 'family' in the school. Throughout her career at the school Tamatha has had rich and varied opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge in a broad range of roles, for example, HTLA, Phonics Champion, supporting learning in Reception, facilitating intervention groups and unqualified teacher.
Tamatha is a positive role model as she embraces learning and she always wants to give 'the best possible support to staff and children.' Her commitment to learning started early on in her career when she studied in the evenings for the Teaching Assistant City and Guilds. At each step she has made sure she has increased her knowledge and understanding and is grateful to work in a partnership that supports and promotes professional development.
'The Head asks if there is anything the school and partners can do to support my learning.'
Tamatha is particularly proud of the time she stepped into the role of class teacher to cover for a colleague who was unwell. Over six months she was helped by 'amazing teachers' who would give advice, lead by example, share ideas and give practical and helpful feedback.
Role models have been a key part of Tamatha's learning. Debbie Osman, Phonics and Key Stage 1 Leader, for example, is 'an amazing role model' and her mentoring over time has been invaluable to Tamatha. Another role model is the class teacher who Tamatha supported as the LSA for three years who 'taught me about curriculum, planning and discussed with me different aspects of pedagogy. She was an inspiration.' This learning stood Tamatha in good stead when she was invited to step into the role of class teacher.
Tamatha enjoys being trusted to use her skills and knowledge to best support learning. She recognises that success isn't just about knowledge and skills but also 'empathy, compassion and determination'. She knows the importance of observing the children carefully each day, reading situations and making adaptations in order to find ways for individuals to engage with learning and have success.
Looking ahead Tamatha will keep adding to her mathematics and phonics knowledge and would like to learn about Early Years.
'It is rewarding to be supported to continue learning and I am always looking for something that will benefit the children and staff.'
Tamatha loves her job and enjoys all the formal and informal roles she plays, including mum, counsellor, teacher, advocate .the list goes on! Being surrounded by the children and working with colleagues who are also friends is rewarding. Her 'passion and hardwork' will continue to be valued within the partnership.
Following a successful year as a trainee teacher at Hightown Primary, Dan was offered an Early Career Teaching post, a two year programme, to refine and develop his understanding of pedagogy and practice.
His love for the school and passion for teaching began when he visited the site as a Saints Football Academy Coach. Making sport accessible for all through innovative coaching and inclusive strategies, meant all pupils became engaged in the programmes offered and were able to take part in some unique and exciting opportunities offered by the club.
Dan was keen to become a part of the Hightown family; he recognised in himself the joy that teaching brings when you see reflected back, the sheer delight of unravelling a mystery for a child; those lightbulb moments that inspire a love for learning and ultimately drive success for learners. It was then that he sought to pursue a career in the classroom.
Whilst working as a fulltime teacher, in what he describes as the most fulfilling of vocations, Dan's love of football has continued through his coaching role for the Saints Academy. This work with the girls RTC, enables talented female players to develop within the club's environment with the aim of turning potential into excellence on and off the pitch.
When not working, Dan loves to spend time with his little boy Rex and hopes that the model for excellence and the personal drive for being the best you can be, is an example for his son.
Stepping stones to making learning irresistible
Alice's career has developed within a culture where 'innovation is not just a word, it is at the core'. As a student on a placement from the University of Winchester ten years ago, Alice knew that Blackfield was the place where she wanted to work and shared the school's values. She has always been given opportunities for professional growth, even when taken out of her comfort zone she always knew she was 'safe to innovate, be creative and try different ideas for the benefit of staff and the children.'
Alice took up the post of Vice Principal two years ago and she acknowledges that her steady development was helped by 'stepping stones', the consistent and supportive building of skills, knowledge and confidence at each step as she took on responsibilities as an Early career Teacher, Year Leader, Assistant Principal and now Vice Principal.
Alice has valued working collaboratively with others, discussing pedagogy and sharing ideas. Early on in her career she was given a research project on the theme of the classroom environment and was told 'The sky's the limit'. She used her interest in research to ask questions and to think about possibilities. At each step the feedback, encouragement and trust she was given resulted in Alice presenting to Governors/the Academic Board an idea which is still being used across the school today. Working walls are part of the process teachers use to make learning current and relevant and which support the extension of pupils' vocabulary .
Alice's love of the children, the curriculum and 'making learning irresistible' is what motivates her every day.
'What excites me is that I can continue to share my passion and have a wider influence on children's learning.' She nurtures positive relationships and feels she is part of a successful, cohesive team.
'There are lots of people with whom you can have professional conversations and who share a curiosity about possibilities for engaging and enthusing children in learning.'
Alice appreciates working in an environment where people ask 'What if .' 'How about.. How can we .' This reflective ethos means that there is a 'tying together of research, current practice and future possibilities.'
Alice believes in the power of coaching, mentoring and recognises the value of receiving and giving practical and relevant feedback. All of these processes have played an important part in her professional development and increased her self-belief, and extended her knowledge and skills. Being able to influence the growth of other colleagues is an exciting and rewarding part of Alice's role, for example, working with an ECT on their identity as a teacher, discussing leadership skills with a newly appointed leader or developing the curriculum within a year group. She is looking forward to using her own coaching and mentoring skills to support staff.
Alice is excited about the next steps in the work of 'every moment, every person, make it count'. She wants to continue to combine her love of curriculum with research- informed practice to find creative solutions to support and nurture all children and to help them navigate successfully in whatever they choose to do in the future. Being part of a team and knowing that everyone wants to 'Inspire Together' is a strong motivator for Alice and she wants to consolidate her role and grow within the team.
Keep calm and love your team
Sarah 'adores' her team and found that support from others and a willingness to come out of her comfort zone have all helped her grow professionally and to love of her job. Sarah joined INSPIRE five years ago as an administrator and although she was experienced in administration she had not worked in education and schools. Her skills and can do attitude were quickly recognised by senior leaders and Sarah is now working as Operations Officer with a diversity of responsibilities. The variety in Sarah's role has kept her busy and motivated and she has valued learning from others. She has completed the School Business Foundation Certificate which has given a firm baseline for understanding the scope of her responsibilities.
'Each day I look forward to working with all the administration staff across INSPIRE. We value and support each other and will jump in to help if anyone is absent or needs additional support.'
Sarah is able to use her knowledge and influence across the Trust. 'It is important to be one team' she says and she regularly visits each school to meet with her colleagues. Sarah enjoys the exchange of ideas and suggestions, as well as finding ways to maintain the consistency and organisation across the Trust. She wants to make sure that her colleagues are supported in the same way as others 'took her under their wing' when she first started working for the Trust. Sarah likes to contribute to the 'little wins' when people achieve personal success and make improvements in their role.
Going forward Sarah is excited by a growing Trust and the opportunities to increase her operational knowledge and complete the Business Manager Diploma. She has high expectations of herself and others and knows that the quality and consistency of administration across the Trust matters.
'The more organised and knowledgeable we are as administrators the better it is for teachers to do their job with the children.'
Sarah sometimes feels that she is furiously paddling like a duck in water whilst appearing calm above the surface. She wouldn't have it any other way, 'I know I am valued and supported.'
Sarah welcomes the challenges, and her love of her team and mutual support will keep her buoyant in whatever is upstream in the future
Lighting the fires for learning
Zoe's passion and optimism for learning have been consistent values in her story in education. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role as Principal at Fawley Infants and to the INSPIRE Trust. She was appointed Principal in September 2021 and has been a member of INSPIRE for three years. Zoe is motivated by working with people who share the same vision.
'School must be a successful place for everyone; everything we do is driven by the needs of each child.'
Zoe's career in education began as a Teaching Assistant and she quickly developed her appetite for learning and desire for equity for each child, making sure that everything she did was 'child-driven'. She extended her skills and knowledge through promoted posts in a variety of schools and worked for Hampshire Behaviour Service supporting schools' work with children who had challenging and complex needs.
'Positive relationships are a huge part of success and working together we can make sure what we provide for children is all-inclusive.'
Zoe is excited about the future and is looking forward to continuing the close working relationship with parents to build on current successes. She describes the school as the 'central hub' in the community where different partners can come together to provide opportunities for the children, including clubs and the opening up of a sensory room, creating a space for children who need that extra calm environment. She is grateful for all the skills and qualities that members of the community contribute to learning experiences and to the enrichment of the curriculum.
Zoe acknowledges the Trust's 'investment' in her and has felt 'supported, valued and encouraged.' She has been given opportunities to try out ideas and encouraged by the Executive Head and other senior leaders to make changes. Zoe believes in 'team spirit, interdependence and listening to people.' She reflects,
'Everyone is a leader and it is important for staff to have self-belief and to know that we work collaboratively, together, and this includes children, staff, parents and Academy Council members.'
The next stage of evolution includes further development of the curriculum, making sure that provision is 'equitable' and gives the children 'real life experiences'. Zoe knows that she is trusted to develop her vision and being part of the Trust gives her a little more capacity to make progress and this is valued in a small school.
'Staff in the school put on many different hats and have a strong work ethic but we know we can't do everything. Support from colleagues within the Trust makes even more possible.'
Zoe likens her positivity and enthusiasm for children's individual success to a fire that warms and re-ignites the passion where needed. She agrees with Rita Pierson's mantra 'Every child deserves a champion'. Zoe's energy, drive and belief in the power of team will keep the fires of learning burning long into the future.
Investigating in the future
Steven's mission is for each student to know what it means to be a scientist with the skills and desire to question, investigate and observe. He loves his work with the students, inspiring their curiosity and supporting them to be able to confidently play whatever roles they choose in their lives.
Steve has been a teacher for 8 years and worked within the Trust for x years. A change of career from vicar to teacher meant Steve has continued to give and receive 'little acts of kindness' and to work with individual learners to facilitate those 'penny dropping moments'. Thirty children with their own individual sense of humour and needs is a big motivation for Steve; he believes in taking the time to 'stand back, acknowledge and celebrate progress before moving on too quickly.'
Steve values opportunities to work with colleagues in different school contexts, to contribute to the Trust's vision and to be 'acknowledged, supported and wanted.' He reflects,
'It is rewarding to be able to talk to colleagues in different schools, to have a healthy dialogue about subject knowledge and pedagogy and be given opportunities to innovate.'
Steve has been working with teams using the Scientific Wheel and posing the question What does it mean to be a scientist This work has changed the nature of science activity in classrooms and has been influential in learning progression, knowledge acquisition and lighting the fires of curiosity and discovery where students have ownership of their learning. Learning may not be neat and tidy and teachers may not always feel in control but the students say,
'I am actually learning; the teacher isn't going to tell me the answers.'
A knowledge driven, enquiry-led approach gives students ownership where they are successfully and effectively using observation, investigation and questioning.
One of the benefits for the students is their understanding of the inter-relatedness of the curriculum, for example, making meaning in subjects through the use of language, and understanding how words can be defined in different subjects. Steve believes,
'Substantive knowledge needs to be everywhere so cross-curricular links and learning matters.'
Steve is proactive about his own learning and takes opportunities to learn with and from others, for example, attending the Kent Science conference, participating in the Science cluster and engaging in conversations with colleagues across the Trust. Steve promotes partnerships beyond the school to give students the chance to see the relevance, application and purpose of science in a wider context. Southampton University and the Royal Institute are important and influential learning partners. Funding has been secured for an outdoor classroom and after school club which is already oversubscribed - evidence of the students' motivation and excitement for science.
Steve combines his passion for science, amateur dramatics and his experience of being part of the Mad Science Company to create environments for students to question and confidently test out ideas. He is undaunted by any seeming 'mission impossible' and if a movie were to be made of Science in the Trust Steve imagines the opening scene.
'Imagine me in a large venue where there is music, information presented in visually stimulating ways, equations on the walls and floor, where there are animals, lots of people, an environment that assaults the senses and is not neat and tidy. Enter the main characters - the students - curious, enthusiastic, fascinated by all they see .'
Steve looks forward to continuing to play his part in the Trust's vision, in contributing to the development of curious and confident students and teachers and sharing in many different storylines and possibilities. Full STEAM ahead!