End of an era, dawn of something new

August 31st marks the official end of an era for @priorygeography as our once illustrious leader David Rogers has headed off to Patcham High for new adventures and I take over from him. Big shoes to fill, big footprints left to either follow or forget.

I started at Priory as a naive, ‘pink and fluffy’, fairly clueless NQT in 2008. Now, 5 years later, I have just seen my first tutor group successfully complete their GCSEs and leave the nest…and I am sure others’ will testify that I am still fairly clueless, generally pink and fluffy, but maybe a little less naive! It’s been an absolute privilege working with David and the team he has carved out over the years. It’s been a mission as well, but such an amazing learning curve. Two months into my NQT I thought I would be out of there as soon as I passed, that I wasn’t good enough or up to the challenge of what the kids needed. But I’ve never regretted the decision to join, nor the decision to stay so long. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that as soon as a teacher hits the three year marker they should be a head of department. When I attended conferences/CPD, especially being in the shadow of Mr R, I would get questions about why I wasn’t stepping out on my own, as if it was a sign of weakness or inability. Truth is, I just enjoyed being where I was. I loved the team I was in and that is something that is hard to find. We had adventures, played pranks, challenged ourselves, did crazy stuff like chalk graffiti over the school walls, and we were on a mission to improve the department and give learners a better experience. Why move when you can be part of something special?

It’s been a hard but epic few years, and with happy endings. I’m proud of the department and of whatever small part I played in helping to build it, and hope that we can continue to build on this and go from strength to strength while I am at the reins. Luckily I have the immense foundation of Sam Atkins to work with in the next year – though I know it won’t be long before he’s looking to lead his own department.

2013_14 is going to be an interesting challenge. We have a new member of the department fresh over from Canada who will keep us youthful and on our toes I’m sure. GCSE and KS3 changes to consider. There are the usual stresses of improving achievement and results, especially while the whole school goes through turbulent times. I was happy to see our Geography results improve nicely again this summer, with some notable success stories, and we need to build on this. We hope to reacquire the GA SGQM this year, and have been asked to take part in the Global Learning Programme as a leading department. We are also working on the Prince’s Teaching Institute quality mark and I’ve been asked to be a subject leader for this inspiring programme which is exciting. There is the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference at Berkhamsted to look forward to (will figure out something to talk about one day hopefully!) in March – see #tlab14 and lanyrd for more info. I’m hoping to get more involved in the Geography Collective and we will be continuing to work with other schools and local teachmeets as well, starting with #tmpompey on 17th September. Sign up here!

I’ll be honest. I’m dead nervous about the next year. It’s a scary thing to keep the momentum on a department that has been so much in the headlights and on such an improving curve. Stepping into those footsteps is a little overwhelming, but I am reminded that those shoes are just shoes, that path just one way of many. I don’t want to be the leader that sees the department I love and helped build slip into decline, but I’m confident we’ll battle through. I’m sad to see the team change, but excited for the new beginnings. I’d better say official congratulations and good luck to the old boss as well 😉

In case you fancy something cheesy, here’s our goodbye video celebrating five years of fun. Thanks for the journey, it’s been intense! Now let’s find the next path.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (Semisonic, ‘Closing Time’)

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