The Bright Side of Primary Teaching: A Headteacher's Perspective
Posted 13th October 2023
Hannah McNamara, Headteacher at Coppice Valley Primary School
The issue of teacher retention has recently received a lot of press, with the latest DfE workforce survey finding almost 9% of teachers resigned from state schools last year. As a headteacher with 12 years of experience working with primary-aged children, I believe it's important to shine a light on the many positive aspects of this profession. Teaching offers unique rewards and opportunities, far beyond the famously long school holidays. In this blog post, I'd like to share five reasons why becoming a teacher is a fulfilling career choice with opportunity to make a difference.
- Making a Tangible Impact
Teaching provides you with the chance to see and feel the results of your efforts. Witnessing a child’s growth and progress first-hand is immensely gratifying. Each year, when I’ve reflected on the development of the children in my class or school, I feel proud of the progress that has been made, not just academically but to each child’s personal growth. Children who have gained confidence, taken a risk, tried something they’ve never tried before, who have overcome a fear or found a new passion.
When the children prepare to leave school in year six, it is with mixed emotion that we take out their reception class photographs and exchange anecdotes about their initial months in school. We recall moments like seeing them with their wellies on the wrong feet, juxtaposed with them effortlessly managing three quick costume changes during their year six production.
- Building Meaningful Relationships
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is forging meaningful relationships with pupils and their families. Beyond the school walls, your interactions with families become an integral part of your teaching. You collaborate with parents and carers to create a supportive and nurturing learning environment. You engage in meaningful conversations about children's progress, goals, and well-being. You teach their younger siblings, and the children you once taught return in their secondary uniforms to tell you all about life at their new school. You get to know the grandparent who always collects on a Friday, and the new pets that join the family too. These partnerships not only enhance your ability to educate in the classroom, but also strengthen the sense of community and trust within the school.
- Lifelong Learning
We often talk about how we engage children to become ‘life-long learners’, yet with this goal for those we teach, the teacher becomes exactly this. Teachers are perpetual learners because of the landscape of evolving pedagogies, emerging technologies, and new research. Being able to bring these developments into the classroom and see the impact they have on the pupils further fosters the desire to embrace the ever-changing world.
- Fostering Creativity and Innovation
Teaching encourages creativity and innovation. Crafting engaging lessons, adapting to diverse learning styles, and finding new approaches to teaching are all part of the job, making it dynamic and exciting. Drawing inspiration from everyday life, I often find myself thinking of ideas during visits to shops, museums, or cafes. Whether it's an eye-catching window display that could look great on a school corridor or an enticing book arrangement for the library, these moments ignite a continuous spark of ‘what next?’. As a teacher, you are fortunate to collaborate with a multifaceted staff team, comprising individuals with diverse interests and expertise, all contributing to the tapestry of the school's curriculum.
- Career Opportunities
Teachers enjoy a stable career path, as the need for quality education persists. The profession offers opportunities for personal and professional development. Teachers can explore various roles within education, such as curriculum development, policy development, specialisation in a particular subject area or leadership opportunities both within a school or across a Trust. I have enjoyed leading English across a primary school, leading year six writing moderation across a cluster of primary schools, Key Stage Two Leader and Deputy Headteacher. The profession supports progression and with primary schools having different leadership structures dependent on their size, there is always opportunity to work in a structure that suits your career needs.