The end of the last term was difficult. I had to reapply for the position of Principal Teacher (basically a re-run of the process three months earlier with the same people) and failed. The short version was, on the day, my interview wasn’t good enough. I spent a couple of sleepless nights angry. I was disappointed in myself and angry at the situation and so to protect myself I spent the next two weeks not thinking about it all. Removed from Scotland (visiting my wife’s family in Canada) I spent a further two weeks just enjoying my holiday before I could think about the implications of what happened to me. 

I came back to education after some time away, a short career at sea, and then some time running my own photography business. Then in the spring of 2014 decided, with the support of my wife, to return to education. At the time we were in Canada. Having been trained in the UK and having been away from the classroom for a number of years, there were several challenges that needed to be overcome before I could be professionally certified to teach in Canada. On this second journey into teaching, I studied at the University of Alberta (an amazing place), taught in The Yukon, and then for two years in Egypt before I landed with my current employer here in Scotland. It was not a straightforward journey but a rewarding one, and one that I have really enjoyed. 

When I first qualified, I lasted five years until I left full-time teaching. One of the reasons I left was that while I loved working with children, I found it hard to deal with the politics that seemed to be part and parcel of life at school. A large part of the problem is me. I am naive – I do what I do because it is what I think is best for the children’s learning and for the school community as a whole. Not because it makes me look good or scores me points or because I want to prove a point. Yet as you progress your career and start looking for leadership positions, this is what you find. To be fair, this seems to be true in any organisation – and on reflection, it is the nature of a competitive workplace, which is in essence, where we find ourselves. Someone wins and someone loses. One person is raised up, the other is brought down. Wouldn’t it be grand though, if we could raise everyone up?

So, I go back to school this week, renewed after the holiday, and am determined to do the best I can for the children who are in my care this year. As I often tell my children, life is a journey, sometimes it’s smooth, sometimes it can hurt – but learn what you can from your journey, strive to be better tomorrow than today and you won’t go far wrong. The consequences of what happened at the end of the last term were really of no consequence at all in the grand scheme of things. But it did spawn a whole load of ideas and thoughts. There isn’t space (or time) to share them now but I will over the coming weeks. Some interesting thoughts on leadership, and how, on reflection, it may be that we have the model all wrong. Some thoughts on what makes a good school and how we know that a school is good in terms of staff development. And finally, are interviews fit for purpose? But that’s for another time.

Until then.  R