The talented teachers and leaders across the Whole Education network are our greatest strength , and are making change in their schools and classrooms every day. As part of an ongoing series, we speak to Craig Clarke, Headteacher at Lea Forest Academy in Birmingham, about leading a whole education.
Why did you choose a career in education?
I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else. This has always been what I wanted to do – to go into schools and make a difference. I engage with children really well.
What has been your proudest moment as a school leader?
The turnaround of our school. We’ve gone from the worst school in the area to the most popular and best performing one. However, it’s not just about test results. It’s involving the wider community as well. Parents are happy to come in to work with the children and the school.
What advice would you give a newly qualified teacher?
Keep going. Stick with it. It can be really daunting at the beginning. The workload is a lot but you go into teaching for a reason, because you’re passionate about what you do. Make sure you’ve got someone to support you and talk to. And ask if don’t know something. No one’s going to tell you off for not knowing something. It’s a hard job and especially hard to go into nowadays. The bar is getting higher and higher.
What advice do you give to children as they transfer to secondary school?
We say to them, “don’t forget what you’ve learnt here.” And “find your remarkable,” which is our motto. We equip them with lots of life skills… it’s about making sure they have high expectations of themselves and pride in what they’re achieving, regardless of where they go next in their education.
How do you compare your primary school experience with the one at your school?
You can’t compare them. The curriculum is so much more innovative now, engaging and child-friendly. It’s totally different because we’re preparing children for the changing future.
What are your school’s top priorities this year?
Making sure we raise attendance, which we’re doing really well with so far. We also need to continue to develop our curriculum, and maintain parental and community engagement.
How can Whole Education help with these priorities?
Whole Education events are really good for networking – to speak to other colleagues from a range of contexts or parts of the country, who work with different local authorities. It’s good to have that time away from school to reflect and discuss where our schools are at.
What would a visitor to your school notice?
The positive ethos. We’ve got happy children and happy staff, which is really important to me. Everyone has high expectations- for themselves and each other.
Thank you to Craig for telling us your teaching story! You can follow Craig on Twitter @Lea_Forest_HT. Tell us your teaching story on Twitter: @wholeeducation, #wholeeducation.