Case study: Sam Davidson
/ Categories: Leadership, Case studies
I started my teaching career in 1992 as a PE teacher, for 11-18 year olds. My career developed with academic mentor, Head of Year and Assistant Head Teacher positions, and in 2010 I joined Carter Community School as Vice Principal. I joined Carter for a few reasons: it is the type of school I enjoy working in, you have to immerse yourself into it and support, guide and challenge the students, and you really do feel like you a making a difference and opening doors to a brighter future.
I was working at Carter Community School when it joined United Learning, and involved in helping to select United Learning from a field of four other Academy chains. Carter is a unique school - it is extremely small for a secondary school, and has a family feel. That means knowing our students, understanding what makes them tick and supporting them to achieve. When selecting United Learning it was clear that the group would allow us to keep our identity, whilst supporting and challenging us to ensure we were allowing the students to reach their potential.
When becoming a Principal, especially in an Acting position, you sometimes feel like a rabbit caught in headlights, so being part of a group is particularly important to me. The CPD, Excellence Visits and GEFs are all very useful, and the best support I had was to be given an experienced head as a mentor and guide. Regular phone conversations and visits just gave me the confidence that we could be successful. It also helps you realise that no question is a stupid one, often you’re not alone in not knowing the answer!
As Principal you are driving the school to achieve its mission. I have a strong team of senior leaders who I trust to be experts in their areas. I empower them to advise us and we work together to make it happen. In the two and a half years I have been Principal I have seen a dramatic change in the staff and students. I am extremely proud of this but we still have a long way to go. It is a challenge but we are changing the life chances of our catchment.
The staff in Carter are fantastic. We support each other as much as we can. As a small school you wear many hats so we have to be mindful of wellness so little touches like every member of staff has a secret buddy who they look after and support.
Moving forward, I am looking forward to our upcoming building project, due to open in 2019. We are due to double, possibly triple in size, but I want to ensure we keep the family feel. Then who knows…..take on the world!