From Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching, to Headship at a Local Academy: University of Northampton Graduate, Tim Marston, shares his story.
It’s been a decade since Tim Marston graduated from the University of Northampton, having studied the Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching and the BA (Hons) Learning and Teaching Top-up degree. He’s now Head at an exciting new school in Northampton.
We caught up with Tim to hear about what he’s been doing since he graduated, his advice for students thinking about studying the Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching, and what he’s focusing on as a Headteacher.
Tim said: “Just over ten years ago, I was working as an unqualified teacher at a local school, Greenfields Special School. The University of Northampton campus was just a stone’s throw away from my school, and I decided that my next step was to get back to education myself; so, I began studying the Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching.
“The way the course was structured suited me, I could work and study. I spent one day a week in university, with a good proportion of work to prepare for these teaching sessions done ahead of time. Balancing working in a school, with the need to be in the classroom learning myself, as well as family life, was sometimes challenging, but the lecturers at Northampton were really flexible and supportive, which was so important in my success.
“The FDLT course has a strong focus on primary school settings, this was interesting for me, as I was working in a special school at the time. Adapting the knowledge and experiences I was getting on the course, to my work in a special school, enriched my learning, as well as the way the course explored wider issues related to education, teaching and learning.
“The FDLT course leaders at Northampton have a huge wealth of experience from varying education settings, my advice to anyone thinking about the course would be to use their knowledge and experience, and ask questions. Use the academic knowledge you get from the course, and the in-education experience the lecturers have to help you work out the type of school you want to work in, and the kind of teacher you want to be.”
Since graduating, Tim has climbed the career ladder working in schools in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, in various teaching and SENCo roles, before taking up his most recent post as Head at Northampton International Academy (NIA). The NIA is one of the newest schools in Northampton, which welcomed its first cohort of students in 2016, and opened the doors to its new building at the start of the 2018 academic year.
“Taking up the post of Head at the NIA has been a wonderful experience, but not without its challenges. The school first opened with a small cohort of students, while our school building was still under construction, so we were temporarily on the grounds of another school. Now we’ve moved into our own school, and each year, we’re adding more year groups to the school. At the moment, I’m making plans to welcome our first cohort of Sixth Form pupils, and double the number of pupils we have learning with us. It’s an exciting time to be part of what I feel, is something very special, for the pupils and the community around the school.
“A large part of being a Head is recruiting the right teachers for our school and enabling those teachers to teach. Nationally there are challenges to recruiting and retaining teachers; it is a challenging career choice. Teaching is a profession people fall in love with, and often teach for life, but it is testing.
“I think a lot of those challenges are down to the level of paperwork, assessments and inspections and the pressure they create, and the knock-on impact on the teachers work / life balance. I believe that it is my job, as Head, to cut through that, removing bureaucracy where I can, to enable the teachers to teach quality lessons, in an engaging way to the children in their class.
“At the NIA, we are all working to inspire our pupils to broaden their horizons and aspirations. I’m proud that our pupils are getting a strong start to their academic life here; our school aims to help pupils feel comfortable to take every opportunity they get offered, and help our pupils to be positive citizens, proudly representing their local area.
“I think the role of a school, within a community, has developed over the last few years; it’s more than engaging young people in their education and working with parents and families in the community around the school. Schools increasingly have a vital role to play in supporting the skills agenda in the region. For example, here at the NIA we’ve recently partnered with the University of Northampton to launch a dedicated STEAMSpace – a place devoted to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) activities, which we hope will raise our pupils, and members of the community’s aspirations and attainment in the field of STEAM subjects. This can only be good for Northampton as a whole.”
The NIA and the University of Northampton have signed a partnership agreement that will see them collaborate on a number of projects. Keep an eye on the University News pages for more information.