I was permanently excluded from mainstream school at the age of 17. In the weeks before I remember my head of year saying things such as "you're just wasting everyone's time", "do you think you need to consider something else?", "is this really the place for you?". At the time I didn't really care much and didn't think about the impact it would have on me, I just enjoyed being with my mates, playing football, having a laugh and generally winding up the staff in the school. After a few fixed term exclusions I remember my parents being asked to come in to school and being told by the head that it was in my best interests that the decision had been made to exclude me permanently. I never imagined I would be working with young people in the same situation years later.
After a couple of years floating about trying my hand at a college course and a few part time jobs I eventually found something I was good at! I decided to leave home, stand on my own two feet and get a job working with young people for an outdoor adventure company. I had no experience at all and found myself thrown in at the deep end working as a multi activity instructor teaching kids as young as 5 how to abseil, canoe, climb and shoot air rifles! This proved to be one of the best experiences of my life and it was while working here that I found I had a natural ability to engage with the kids who weren't quite so well behaved!
Since then I have spent the last 20 years working with young people across many sectors including mainstream primary and secondary schools, SEBD schools, social care, local authority and pupil referral units. I am a qualified England Boxing Level 1 Coach and a highly experienced Duke of Edinburgh Leader. I love a challenge and I am looking forward to what the next 20 years is going to bring as Queensberry AP develops.
When I was at school I was really sporty and everybody assumed I would be a PE Teacher later in life. When I left school at the age of 17 this was the last thing I wanted to do; I couldn’t imagine standing on a school field in the rain for the next 40 years! Other than my History Teachers, Mr Whittle and Mrs Cunningham, for me there were very few positive adult role models in my school that I respected and none at that time that made me think teaching was the career for me.
I took a gap year to be a chef in France and then a waitress in Kos before going to University to study sport management. Over the next few years during my studies I was lucky enough to work as a children’s representative in Spain and when I completed my degree I moved to Austria for a year to be a ski rep before becoming a hotel manager. On return to the UK I was given the opportunity to work as General Manager of a Hotel and Restaurant and devoted my spare time to hockey coaching with young people across the region. I have played hockey all my life and being heavily involved in coaching both at my local club and for England Hockey I truly learnt the power of sport in developing skill and values applicable to everyday life.
About 10 years ago I suddenly realised how much I enjoyed working with young people and that maybe becoming a teacher was the right decision after all! I don’t have any regrets about choosing not to go into a teaching career sooner as I gained so much experience from my travels. I strongly believe the life experience I have gained since leaving school helps me understand young people better and has been instrumental in my career. I have been fortunate to work in mainstream schools, as a Deputy Head within a Studio School and my biggest challenge and greatest success of my career, becoming a Headteacher of a Pupil Referral Unit. Working with permanently excluded students and their families ignited my passion for working with vulnerable and challenging young people and has been a driving force in the development of Queensberry AP, and I am looking forward to whatever challenges this may bring!