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Head of School, Cavendish Primary

The proudest moment for me happens every day when I walk round the school and see the kids.

When I decided to be a teacher and why I chose Leeds Trinity

I didn’t go through the traditional route to get into teaching. I did some volunteering in my old school, in Middlesbrough, which was a real eye-opener. I then went away and undertook a placement in America, where I worked for ten weeks at a summer camp - it was at this point I realised that working with children was what I really wanted to do. A Careers Advisor at my local College then recommended I had a look at Leeds Trinity, as a renowned teacher training institution.

Leeds Trinity stood out from the first moment I set foot on campus, there was an overwhelming family atmosphere.

Jon Nixon classroom.

My favourite memories from studying at Leeds Trinity

There are several things I could say here. Firstly, and obviously most important I met my wife on campus! I also really enjoyed living on campus during my first year as I was right next door to the lecture theatre! The social aspect of the University was fantastic too, you only had to walk down the hill and jump on a train and you could be in Leeds in ten minutes.

Another thing that stood out to me was that if you were going through a hard time at Leeds Trinity but there was a really good support network for students.

How my time at Leeds Trinity prepared me for my teaching career

The four-year course helped immensely, over this time I got to spend approximately 50 weeks in schools. I was able to take advantage of two years working at a school in Keighley and two years at a school in Bradford. These were two very contrasting schools which offered me a diverse and fully rounded learning experience. At the end of these 50 weeks I felt completely ready to be a teacher.

The lectures weren’t all theory based, there was an awful lot of practical experience around assessment and behaviour and all of us on the course were able to take advantage of and learn from lecturers that had been teachers themselves.

How my career panned out after graduating

I worked as a Year 6 Teacher in Northumberland for six years at a Middle School and then made the decision to move nearer to family. This involved a change in career as a consultant where I was working with 10 challenging schools in Bradford. One of these schools, was Cavendish Primary and I really wanted to help and make a difference. At the time, the school had just received a satisfactory judgement from Ofsted and in the league tables that are presented every year by the BBC, Cavendish was at the bottom of the Bradford league table for progress.

I was delighted to accept the initial role of Deputy Head Teacher and help turn the school round in 2012. I’ve since become the Head of School with the Executive Head working at two schools

My experience at Cavendish Primary School

We take students from age 3 to 11 and we have 73 staff, a number of these have studied at Leeds Trinity like myself. The school strives to teach and instil key skills of resilience and teamwork for every single student who walks through our doors. The school is in a challenging environment, with high levels of deprivation. Education is the key and every member of staff can make a difference in our children’s experiences, by raising their aspirations. You can watch these children grow from nursery to the end of their journey with us, in year six. They are leaving the school with good grades and are well rounded children who are ready for the challenges of high school - this is the most rewarding aspect. Since 2012, we’ve managed to turn the school around, we’re now a good school, in the top quarter in Bradford, with progress rates well above average.

Jon Nixon mural.

Having Leeds Trinity trainees at Cavendish Primary

During the 2018/19 academic year we were allocated two final year students from Leeds Trinity. They were both fantastic and took full class responsibility. They both settled in really well and are highly regarded members of staff who attend staff meetings, mark the books and get in front of the class for 80 to 90% of the time. As well as the valuable experience they are getting it also gives the school extra capacity to use our teachers elsewhere.

My proudest moment

The proudest moment for me happens every day when I walk round the school and see the kids

My advice for trainee teachers

Make the most of your placements and make sure you turn up for your lectures! Never underestimate the time that you have in schools during your training as this time is so valuable. Make sure you watch other teachers and have a go at the teaching craft yourself whenever you get the opportunity