What are you doing now?
Head of Modern Foreign Languages at The Henrietta Barnett School, North London.
What route did you take up to this point?
DHS from 1981-1989, Degree at Bath University in French, German and European Studies (’89-’93), then two further years living and working in Nice, France. Then MSc in Tourism Management at Surrey ’95-’96. Eventually became a teacher at the age of 28.
Any significant crossroads?
Going back to Nice instead of straight into a career. Doing the MSc in Tourism Management at Surrey University, followed by a move to London working various office jobs. Realised I was missing languages a lot, and may have lost my fluency unless I used them day to day. I had loved teaching in Nice, so decided to train on a PGCE course in London. Best decision I made.
What have you learnt most about yourself?
Job-wise, follow your gut instinct, not what you think you should do for yourself or to please anyone else.
What words of wisdom would you give to a student joining DHSB in Year 7?
Don’t worry about tests and exams too much. They are a means of progress only. Pick yourself up and do better next time if you get a bad result. It is not the end of the world!
Also, even more important as exams, get involved in music, drama, sport or other clubs at DHS. You will always remember them fondly!
And for a Sixth Former leaving DHSB?
Grab every opportunity life throws at you even if it’s risky or won’t earn you a large salary.
Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you need to get a job at 21 or 22 if you want to work abroad or take a different path for a few years eg living and working abroad, VSO or other volunteer work, teaching English etc. Living in Nice was the best thing I did even if some of my friends by then had stable jobs in Law or Accountancy. I grew up even more, made good friends, got my French to complete fluency, and it has benefitted me in every part of my life since.
Never stop learning.
Any fond memories of school you can share?
All the Drama productions I was involved in with Clive Burrows directing such as Dracula Spectacular, The Tempest, Terra simulantis. Brilliant, formative experiences, so much fun, and great for confidence; I was a shy, under-confident 11 year old.
Trefor Farrow (Head of Music) and all the music ensembles I was involved with and trips/performances /concerts we did, as well as for school musicals like Guys and Dolls. The Le Touquet Big Band tour of ’88 and 5 minute spot on TSW evening news was a highlight of my Sixth Form!
Trefor was such an inspirational band leader/conductor, I even married a musician and still play trombone (albeit averagely!) in my current school orchestra, jazz and wind bands.
History teacher, Kevin Dickens was so inspirational. His knowledge was endless and the stories he told about 19thC politicians were very amusing to us Sixth Formers.
Do you have a message for any of your old teachers?
None will still be there, I’m sure – thank you to them all! My A level teachers have given me a life-long love of their subjects.