Meet our People
Executive Principal of Harris Primary Academy Chafford Hundred & Harris Primary Academy Mayflower
"My own calling into teaching was inspired by some very special teachers."
When I was studying for my A levels in Solihull, I worked in two local primary schools, including with a truly inspirational teacher who helped build my confidence and completed my education as a person. At 18, I volunteered with disadvantaged pupils in London, opening my eyes to the wider world. Later, an amazing socialist politics teacher opened my thinking again and challenged my prejudices and narrow mindedness.
All of these factors combined to make me a better person and to develop a passion for teaching. I applied to study at the University of Warwick and once I'd graduated in 1991, I launched my teaching career at Bellenden Primary School in South London.
I joined the Harris Federation in January 2014, taking on Harris Primary Academy Chafford Hundred before opening the new five-form entry free school, Harris Primary Academy Mayflower, in September 2014. In September 2016, I also became the Executive Principal of Harris Primary Academy Orpington. This is an exciting new challenge as we attempt to turn around the performance of a predecessor school which has been requiring improvement since its 2014 inspection.
In addition to this, I have been working to support the Principals and staff at Harris Primary Academy Crystal Palace and Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane in 2015-16. I have loved being part of these successful and vibrant academies.
I love the collegiate feel of being part of the Harris team. Sabeena Hasan, our Regional Primary Director, and Sir Dan, our Chief Executive, are nationally renowned school and system leaders and the support we receive is second to none.
Before joining the Federation, I heard some negativity about the accountability of working for Harris, but I have never worked with a stronger, more supportive team. Of course, we expect the best for every Harris pupil, but we are all very much in it together. When things have gone well, I have been asked to share the best practice and it has been celebrated, and when things haven't gone as well the support I've had from colleagues and the Harris team has been heartfelt and incredible. This is not a place for hero leadership; it is most definitely a sustainable and hugely collaborative approach.
I love knowing that I am part of the most successful academy chain in the country and I love the fact that the support for business management, project management, HR, recruitment and ICT leaves me free to focus on the business of leading teaching and learning. Even though I am responsible for three primary academies I do have a good work life balance. This is due in no small part to the Harris approach.
The three academies I lead have some fantastic strengths. Harris Primary Academy Chafford Hundred has vibrant displays and the work in pupils' books and Early Years Learning Journals is exemplary in terms of presentation and quality.
Harris Primary Academy Mayflower is set in an inspiring new building. The vision for the academy of “Excellence. Every Child. Every Day.” is brought to life through the core values which underpin the behaviour and teaching and learning approaches.
If you are applying for a position at any of these academies, you should come with an open mind, a willingness to embrace change and receive feedback, and a good sense of humour. Be prepared to put your heart and soul into shaping the very best education for each of our pupils but be prepared to learn and grow every day too. Even if you're just thinking about working for a Harris Academy, do pay us a visit – we are always willing to show visitors around.
Teaching at Harris gives you a chance to learn your trade with the best academy chain in the country and supported by an incredible team of gifted educationalists with a track record of success. Why would you look anywhere else?
My top three qualities when looking for a teacher:
- Someone who is open to reflective practice and will grow and develop, whilst embracing change and improvement.
- Someone who can communicate well both when speaking and in writing.
- Passion for the job and someone who has done their research about me and the academies before coming to interview.