What do you do now?
I’m Director of Sports Performance and Excellence at a secondary school.
During my time at South Craven I wanted to be a chef, but sport was always a big part of my life. I competed many times for South Craven in athletics, cross-country and badminton. As I progressed through Sixth Form, my interest in teaching PE grew. I owe so much to the PE staff, who supported me massively during this time.
Once I completed my A Levels I spent a year working with the PE department, which gave me a brilliant insight into what it’s like working in a PE department full time. I loved it, so my decision was made. I gained a first-class Honours degree in Sports and Recreation Development from Leeds Metropolitan University and the academic achievement award for the course. I completed a PGCE course in Secondary Physical Education and gained the academic achievement award for the second time in a row.
Although I had a great time during my four years at university, I wasn’t a typical student. I had no real interest in going out to nightclubs or bars – I was totally focused on my goal of teaching PE. I joined the student union volunteering organisation CALM (Community Action @ Leeds Met), as they had a sports coaching link with a local secondary school. I volunteered up to 20 hours a week in their PE department and gained so much experience. This became the highlight of my university years. Some of my fellow students on the degree course thought I was stupid as I wasn’t interested in the socialising they took part in most evenings, but I was proud of what I was doing to support my future goals.
I secured my first teaching post in a secondary school in 2010 and am now one of the longest serving staff, having never moved on! I’ve had a few different roles including Assistant Head of PE and Transitional Coordinator. I was appointed to my current leadership post in 2018, where I’m responsible for supporting the large number of students we have that compete in sport outside of school to a high standard. I support them with their training, their ability to balance academic pressures with their sporting lives and anything else they need to help them achieve their sporting dreams. I get to see our talented students achieve success – it’s a great job!
What advice would you give your 17-year-old self?
You’re making the right choices at the right time. You have your focus now. Work hard, ignore distractions and go and achieve your dreams.
What are you most proud of?
That I chased my dreams to become a PE teacher and succeeded, despite facing criticism and comments from my university peers. I’m proud that I wasn’t affected by their opinions and didn’t allow them to alter my future aspirations.
I now work hard every day to support the next generation of sports stars, many of whom also deal with unhelpful comments from peers. I can share my experiences to help them overcome these barriers.