Desire to Aspire - Head's Blog

Posted on: 23/02/2018



Over the half term holidays I spent time with family and catching up with friends and enjoyed reminiscing about school days.  

I have also been reading some delightful blogs from fellow educators who have written about who their Heros or Sheros are. What has struck me is the number of us who have been so influenced by the teachers who taught us, but have not quite realised this until much later on in our lives when we reflect on the influential people who helped shape who we are. Of course 

families are big part of this too but for many of us the teachers who we have engaged with throughout our lives have been a massive influence. I am sure you will also have your Hero or Shero from your school days?

At St. Helen’s College we have such inspirational teachers who will bring out the best in your children, ignite their awe and wonder in the world and challenge them to step out of their comfort zone to try new things. We encourage children to ask questions and give them an out of the box experience - the more hands on we can make our curriculum the more the children will remember, engage and enjoy.  As teachers we need to inspire our children for them to have the desire to aspire!

On Saturday I attended the Chartered College of Teachers annual conference in London and met and listened to some inspirational educators.  One of the women who has left an impression on me was Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE.  Maggie attended 13 different schools growing up and she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Her family were not affluent but they were engaged with their daughter’s education and allowed her to follow her dreams.   Sadly when Maggie told a teacher that her dream was to be an astronaut she was told to consider nursing as that was scientific too! Thankfully that would not happen here!

Dr. Maggie is currently a Space Optical Instrumentation Manager, who designs many space instruments, and she has been involved in developing the Gemini telescope and the James Webb telescope. She also presents ‘The Sky at Night’ and, as a young child, she was fixated with the Clangers (particularly the Soup Dragon!)

Listening to Maggie and discussing with other teachers after the event, I felt so proud of the curriculum we offer our pupils and the expertise of the staff we have on board.

We also have our very own ‘scientist’ at school, Ms Gilham, whose career as a scientist started at the Medical Research Council based at the University of Sussex where she graduated with a BSc in Biology. As a cellular biologist for MRC, she joined a group to study the effects of the oil spill disaster in the Shetlands in the 90s, and also got involved in the study of skin cells from patients who had a genetic predisposition to skin cancers and how radiation affected their ability to repair their DNA.  

Although research is such a dynamic and exciting field, the teaching profession has many benefits as a career. Moreover, she thought that it was more rewarding to teach people on a daily basis than to be pippeting microlitre amounts of chemicals in a test tube or growing skin cells in a petri dish! Ms Gilham then trained as a secondary science teacher and gained her teaching status, but realised that the year groups were all wrong. At this point, research summoned yet again and she worked at Brunel University, joining a group to study how skin cells get transformed to immortalised cells. This work was part of a study to help understand how mutations occur that might lead to the formation of skin cancer cells. It was an exciting job as skills involved the use of cellular biology techniques as well as molecular biology where genes relating to the regulation of cell growth were studied.

Not many primary science teachers can say that they could sequence a gene! Ms Gilham’s passion for science and the benefits of research were her drive in the ten years she was in research. It is the same passion and love of science, plus the idea of inspiring children to become future scientists, that now keeps Ms Gilham in the teaching profession where she finally has found her niche in the primary classroom. Ms Gilham chose teaching over the opportunity to do her PhD! She absolutely loves the way children respond to her whenever they do experiments every single day in their science lessons.

It is not only in Science but across the curriculum and throughout the school day, from Ducklings Kindergarten through the EYFS and up to Upper School, that all of our staff inspire your children with a three-pronged attack: they are great role models, they keep learning relevant and they continue to challenge and questions the children to heighten that sense of wonder about the world.

Teaching is the most important profession in the world and it is a privilege to be part of this unique vocational profession.  

This was recognised just this week by Sir Ridley Scott  when he gave an emotional speech on the night he received his Bafta Fellowship. The legendary filmmaker received a standing ovation from an audience full of stars of the silver screen. During his eight-minute speech, the 80-year-old also said he believed teaching was “the most important of all professions”. He said: “Sort that out and social problems will get sorted out. It sounds simple but we’ve been talking about it for years and it’s absolutely vital. My teachers inspired me.”  (Sir Ridley Scott)  (Maggie Aderin Pocock)

Mrs. Drummond