Having had a short career in industry back home in North Wales, I began teacher training nine years ago with a PGCE in key stage 2 and 3 science at Newman University in Birmingham; completely unaware of the level of challenge, the politics, but also the huge rewards and enjoyment in front of me. After a year on supply in primary schools across Birmingham and Solihull, I was given by first post in a secondary school at Turves Green Girls’ School. The school is on the edge of the former Austin/Rover/MG car site and as such, is an area which has seen immense change and hardship following the closure of the Rover car site. Staffing changes meant that I was acting Head of Department within two years with a small, but very supportive and dedicated staff who had been through a lot of change in terms of leadership, with an urgent need to update curriculum and qualifications.
Looking back I have no idea how we would have coped as a team without the ENTHUSE Celebration Awards, and the superb CPD provided with them from the National STEM Learning Centre in York. With the CPD at York (and later at Keele University), as well as being part of the Triple Science Support Programme; with a lot of hard work as a team, we moved the department forward. We introduced new courses for those struggling to achieve their potential at GCSE, we adapted to the “new” GCSEs in 2011 and introduced Triple Science for the first time. Teaching for most staff moved on massively; we have been able to share our development with each other, across the school and have supported primary schools with science as well.
In 2013 I won the “Closing the gap” ENTHUSE Celebration Award, having demonstrated the impact of our work, and the results in school. The process of applying for the award was relatively straight forward but I was pleased to find that whilst the paperwork was simple, the evidence required was thoroughly assessed. This meant I evaluated our results and impacts more stringently – a process which we have developed further as a school and a department in recent years. I was delighted to be announced as a winner at the awards ceremony. The opportunity to meet the people supporting ENTHUSE at the dinner in London helped me to realise how many fantastic people there are who really support the work we do in school, and value its impact. In these times of political negativity, there is no doubt that it really made a big positive impact on my morale to be recognised by people from different professions. I thoroughly enjoyed the science theme of the evening and the opportunity to network and discuss ideas with other professionals. The excellent trophy remains one of proudest achievements in life.
The award highlighted for me the work of my entire team and the support of SMT and staff across our community in school; it remains an achievement which highlights a stepping stone on a path where we are continually moving through stages of improvement. I have also felt a sense of duty to continue to monitor, challenge and work towards closing the gap to this day, as each new set of young people come to us, and the challenges we must face with them, endlessly change!
So if you are thinking of applying, it’s not a huge task to do and whether you win or not, you will be recognising real achievements that really have made an impact. The opportunity of a few hours being celebrated as a professional is deserved by most teachers, and I’m sure you will benefit massively from the chance to have that celebration and positivity among all of your hard work! Go for it!
Sign up to the awards yourself or if you know someone or an organisation that has done exceptional work to impact students, you can nominate them in the application form.
Mike Jackson, BA (Hons) PGCE, MA, CSciTeach