Climbing the ladder of success: Part 1
In just five years Richard Corner has gone from NQT to assistant headmaster – read his fascinating story and pick up some handy tips to further your career
In the blood
Growing up, there was always a large number of teachers in my family and I feel that education and teaching is in my blood. This has been a huge influence in my life and sparked the dream of one day becoming a head teacher.
Now married (to a teacher, obviously) with a two-year-old son and a little girl on the way, the desire is still as strong as ever. The opportunity to lead a school and have a positive influence on the lives of as many young people as possible is what motivates me each and every day. Now a full term into my sixth year, I could never have imagined that I would be in my second assistant head teacher role already.
Following a PGCE at Loughborough University in 2012, I began my career as a newly qualified science teacher at Ken Stimpson Community School in Peterborough. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to develop by taking risks and trying new things without the fear of criticism.
This is something I try to mirror in my own leadership now. I was well supported by a fantastic science team as well as an inspirational NQT coordinator, who led Teaching and Learning at the school; a role that because of this man, soon became an ambition of mine to fulfil. If I can have the same influence on new teachers as he did on me, I will be extremely happy.
In April of my NQT year, the first chance of progression came in the form of a maternity cover for ‘literacy across the curriculum coordinator’. I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to further contribute to the school.
I was appointed to the post and set about trying to raise the profile of literacy across the school. I worked with teachers from every department; writing policies, launching whole school initiatives, and most importantly I was making a difference and could prove it.
The position was made permanent and I held this role for three and-a-half years, alongside the other roles I picked up along the way. I am sure this early exposure to an important whole school role and early experience of middle leadership is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to progress as quickly as I have.
Towards the end of my second year in teaching, I was enjoying extra responsibility and keen to make a greater impact at the department level. The opportunity arose to become joint second in faculty from September 2014.
The experienced head and other second in faculty supported me greatly, they listened to my suggestions and supported me in pushing through the ideas I had.
It would have been very easy for them to question my inexperience and not give me as much time and support as they did. As a team, we made a huge impact on results the following summer.
As well as the positive impact I was making within the science department and with literacy, I was asked to become involved in delivering whole school CPD. Alongside the T&L lead, I delivered on INSET days, at twilight sessions and shared my ideas and resources at weekly teaching and learning briefing sessions.
Sharing resources and delivering training sessions, to me, was a great honour. I felt I was making a real difference to the quality of teaching and learning within the school.
I did these things because I wanted to, I gave up my own time to prepare and enjoyed every minute. This is something I would recommend to anybody looking to further their career. It gives me a great sense of joy when I see practical ideas and resources I’ve shared being used by other teachers.