Do you love children or young people? Steve Davies, Headteacher of Willowbrook Primary School in South Wales, suggests that teaching offers “incalculable value“. Despite teaching hours being long and demanding, the everyday variety is what enriches the career and offers life-long satisfaction. Every working day is different in the teaching world and this is what makes the job so exciting. It is a rewarding and inspirational motive, to teach and mould a child’s life that is special and unique to them. You could be a part of that transformation.
Steve Davies believes that it is important to keep up with change and “to prepare our pupils/students for entry into 21st century working life.” How else can teaching touch your heart and most of all, the hearts of others? Find out.
1.What is your full name, the company you work for and your position within the company?
Steve Davies, Headteacher at Willowbrook Primary School, Cardiff, South Wales
2.In what ways does the company you work for accommodate for graduates?
Over the past 9 years, we have appointed 8 graduates to teaching positions across both key stages. This has involved training more experienced teachers to become both phase mentors and senior mentors to oversee the process of ensuring those graduates successfully complete their NQT year. Two of these graduates have progressed to become middle leaders.
This opportunity has arisen due to increased pupil numbers which has led to the need for additional classes and therefore teachers. However, it also underlies the value and importance the school places on doing all it can to develop graduates and facilitate their teaching progression to become excellent practitioners. We know that this process will contribute hugely to raising standards in pupil outcomes as well as raising the profile of the teaching profession more widely, giving a teaching career the status it rightly deserves.
3.What is the current market like for internships, long-term careers and other opportunities? Please describe.
It depends on the school, its vision and the creation of opportunities for graduates to have a part to play in its development. Teaching has become a long-term career for many although I am aware of talking to teaching agencies that we work closely with, that some graduates are leaving the profession due to the excessive workload and demand that comes with being a teacher. We are very keen to welcome students completing teaching degrees or PGCEs to help prepare them for entry into the profession. We currently have two final year students with us completing an 8-week placement, one in Foundation Phase/Key Stage 1 and the other in Key Stage 2. Providing the guidance, modelling and nurture that these students need is something we value greatly as a school.
4.Do you have any advice you can give to the current graduate market in your field?
Teaching is a tough but rewarding profession to be a part of! With curriculum change upon us (especially here in Wales), it’s a time to fashion and craft change to prepare our pupils/students for entry into 21st century working life. The new curriculum has an inherently strong IT focus and emphasis with the Digital Competency Framework spearheading this focus.
The working hours of a teacher are long, the demand is high but the variety of every day is enriching and to be part of moulding a child’s life and the outlook is of incalculable value. If you love children/young people, it’s the best job ever!
5.Do you have any tips for students studying in your area of expertise?
Being a Headteacher, the scope of my job is pretty different to how it was being at the ‘chalkface’ as a teacher. However, be prepared to observe the best teachers, learn from them and model your practice on what they do best. Ask questions, remain willing to adapt, learn and develop your practice…and work hard. Retaining these attitudes will mean senior leaders will entrust you with responsibilities that could take you into senior leadership or even Headship!
6.Any final words/inspirations for students and graduates in relation to the world of work?
Realise that working life requires routine, resilience and reliability – these are both mindsets and qualities that will enable you to become respected, valued and in turn personally fulfilled in your sphere of work. If you find/are finding your NQT year unbelievably tough, hang in there, all those elements of the job that are ‘firsts’ will in time become inherent and your everyday norms. Capture and retain those moments when a child understands something for the first time and be inspired to keep going, knowing that tomorrow could be one of those ‘lightbulbs moments’ for a new pupil in your care!
Interviewed by Gemma Smith
Steve Davies attitude reflects a ‘don’t give up’ mindset. Not only is this extremely powerful in the modern day but it reflects a truth that all of us should take onboard on a daily basis while being caught up in a busy lifestyle. It is important that as working individuals or as aspiring learners we allow ourselves to grow and flourish just the way we’re meant to.