When the idea to write this blog came to mind for the first time, I had to ask myself some important questions – what am I setting out to achieve with this blog, how will this benefit others as well as the conversations already taking place, and how will I be able to adequately serve the reader audience who will take the time to click on my posts? I settled on a hybrid approach, one that will incorporate hard fact and hard opinion on topics pertinent to my PhD project and education.
This blog will be a critical and evaluative commentary of key academic and pedagogical literature on areas including school leadership and teacher wellbeing. Alongside this, there will be interviews and features that will amplify the teacher experience in Britain, allowing for open and honest conversations and viewpoints to be stated and explored as well as topical discussions on educational policy and procedure. Voice will be a key focus. Teach Care will aim to curate voices from academics, researchers, government officials, school leaders and teachers so that the gusto we are seeing in the discourse surrounding teacher wellbeing is maintained and contributed towards in an effective, informative and invigorating manner.
As a PhD student embarking on a three year project assessing the correlative impact of school leadership on teacher wellbeing, this blog will help distil and present researched findings in an accessible and digestible way, open up minds and conversations about issues that deeply affect teachers and in the end, lead to solutions and changes that will help fix the teacher crises that Britain faces today. I will aim to share updates of my own research, thoughts, experiences and findings (as far as university regulations will allow me to) so that I can take you along with me and together we can understand teacher wellbeing and all that comes with it a little bit better. It would be remiss of me not to mention my school at this point, the School of Environment, Education and Development at the University of Manchester, who awarded me with the SERE Studentship Award for 2021 to enable the successful completion of my project. I am grateful to the school, the university and my excellent supervisors, Dr Paul Armstrong and Dr Stephen Rayner, for supporting my project from when it was a mere thought.
Having worked as an English teacher for the past seven years in a variety of contexts, my ears tuned into the experiences of my colleagues at a very early stage of my career and I asked myself another question, a more fundamental one; so much is done for the benefit of the students, the parents and the communities, what is being done for the teachers? This observation became a persistent thought which then turned into a Masters degree that inspired a PhD proposal and is now a PhD project, and is also manifesting itself as Teach Care. My commitment to improving the teacher experience is the essence of it all.
In addition to my teaching career and PhD, I am a Trustee of Teach First, a national charity that is dedicated to reduce the attainment disparity between students from low socio-economic contexts and their counterparts. Being an Ambassador of the charity after completing its Leadership Development Programme in 2014, I am pleased to now be in the position to contribute towards achieving the charity’s mission at board level ensuring that the investments, strategies and policies that are made are in line with the needs of our students, teachers, leaders and communities.
As all progressive concepts should make space for, I welcome your feedback, suggestions, thoughts and comments on what you will find and read here. As much as the content within is derivative of the reading and research I will be undertaking, your contributions will prove to be essential in forming an effective, reflective and relevant forum to represent a collective voice and experience. At the bottom of each page you will find a small form through which you can tell me whatever you want – be free and be open and tell me what you’re thinking. Isn’t that what this is all about?
At the heart of it all, it is paramount that more is done to support teachers. This blog is just one of the ways I aim to do this. This blog is not about me, what I believe or what I think, but rather an arena for discussion, information and analyses, an igniting force, something to think about on the train ride home. Like all great change, the words that we write and speak can make all the difference and a difference is what we need, right now.
Last but not least, I would like to emphasise the fact that this blog is for the teacher. Every single one of us will know one, whether they are the career choices of our mothers, husbands, sisters, neighbours, nephews, grandchildren, ex-students, best friends or your own, teachers form the truss of an education system and they must be supported, protected and empowered at all costs.
LL.B PGCE MA