I relish this opportunity to develop a résumé to accompany my application for the position of Head of Department for English.
I invite you to take some time exploring the many links, videos, sites and evidence I have gathered to ensure that you don’t have to rely on my word alone to evaluate my expertise and professional capacity.
I am dedicated to teaching and learning. I have a very strong belief in the powerful influence a good teacher can have on the human development of a teenager. I teach from a standpoint of honesty, determination, collaboration, self-respect and self-reflexivity. I am determined to act as a strong role model, and fundamentally believe in the necessity that I demonstrate in my own actions what I expect from others.
It is essential that educators are able deftly to navigate the path between the richness of our past and the panoply of possibilities for the future. In the classroom I teach with respect for our establishment, yet present challenges to students to explore the relationship between what they are learning now and their own future – and consider the implications of this. I consider it to be my obligation to bring out the best in every student and will stop at nothing to ensure this.
For many years my email signature has been appended with an exhortation written by Katherine Mansfield to “do the hardest thing”. My travel to London has been an embodiment of this, and as Mansfield did before me, I have gained tremendously both personally and professionally from pitting myself against the rigours of British society. In that time I discovered my pride in being a New Zealander; I have proven that my educational ideas, incubated in New Zealand, have agency on the world stage and ultimately I have come to the conclusion that it is my country of origin to which I want to contribute my energy and passion.
I am now at a stage in my career where I want to ally myself to a school that considers the pursuit of excellence to be the norm. I seek a school that considers an outstanding academic education to be the right of every student, and I seek an educational environment that is characterised by courage, integrity and a respect for hard work.
The credentials that I have accumulated to my name, including the 2019 National Award for Excellence in Teaching and Innovation; the recognition I have gained for my professional practice and the experience I have accumulated through the last 18 years of full-time teaching of English, I now humbly place before you.
I hope you enjoy exploring this presentation of my professional life.
National Excellence in Teaching Award
Mount Aspiring College
Wanaka, New Zealand
Assistant Head of Learning Area for English and Dean of Iron House
January 2017 – Present
After seven years teaching in inner London, the return to New Zealand, and Wanaka, was a breath of fresh air. This school serves the entire Upper Clutha region, and as such is a hub of the community. I greatly enjoy the pivotal role a school and its teachers can have in a community, and have built some strong co-operative relationships with families, students and local youth organisations.
On returning from the UK, I was brimming with ideas to build upon the innovations of the past, and eager to put these into action. You’ll see listed to the right of this description some of those to which I put the majority of my energy: The micro-credentials team project, the teacher podcast series and my beloved Tri Club. Everything I do in my professional life comes from position of humanism and pursuit of excellence.
GENRE-BASED PROGRAMMES OF LEARNING
Developing even further on the movement towards programmes of learning in English that pursue a singular theme, I have been exploring with my colleagues the use of genre as the unifying force in my learning programmes. You’ll see in the websites for my “Thoughtcrime” programme, which focuses on the stylistics of satire and propaganda and how these inform the genre of future dystopia; or that of my “Magical Realism” programme, which similarly pursues the features of that genre.
This approach allows for a deepening of both the literary and the linguistic aspects of the students’ learning by building a highly sophisticated appreciation of the interplay between style and content.
This is possibly better framed in the words of Peter Bennett, a researcher with whom I am collaborating to write a chapter for his latest book, tentatively titled “The Murder of English”
“In our department the notion of writing text simply in order to achieve a grade is an anathema. Our students create texts to communicate ideas, feelings, fragments of their real and imagined lives” (Chris Waugh)
This chapter focusses on “The dissenting voice” and a pedagogy that asks students to consider the tools English scholarship provides them in the light of the urgent need for them to act for themselves. Reaffirming his insistence that the classroom is very much the real world and not a venue for the preparation of students for this, Waugh once again steps actively into the fray as an advocate for English, fully loaded. Here it describes an experience that is rich, complex, unpredictable and frequently demands everything of us, continuing to in Waugh’s own memorable phrase to “luxuriate in the now”.
Waugh has an ongoing commitment to shift the locus of control, and responsibility, in the classroom from the teacher, to ‘the space between us and the students’. Using technology as a means to effectively create space for the core artefacts of collaboration – the students’ work, Waugh’s practice is always pushing boundaries
His accounts of live-streaming from the classroom, which he describes as ‘raising the stakes’ evoke Biesta’s impassioned arguments for the beautiful risk of education. Waugh argues that this sense of risk creates an excellent frisson in the classroom and brings life to even the most conventional material, as students are ‘mining’ it to develop the talents and knowledge they can use to amplify their voice, and better contribute to society.
DEAN OF IRON HOUSE
July 2017 – Present
Working with my Co-Dean Charlotte, we have developed a very strong house culture. With a strong philosophy that says ‘you get what you attend to’, we have introduced a range of ways of working with the students in Iron House that emphasise the positive.
Routines and discipline are essential to the effective running of any school, and we have proven via a number of measures that taking the time to notice, and acknowledge, the students who are meeting our expectations has been extremely successful.
For example, while it should come as no surprise that acknolwedging students who maintain excellent attendance is likely to lead to higher over-all levels of attendance – it has been surprising how many of our colleagues were convinced this wasn’t going to be the case!
Being a Dean has allowed me to deepen my knowledge of, and relationships with, the students I teach, and as a result has further incresed my effectiveness with them in the classroom.
The Aspiring Triathlon Club has grown rapidly since its inception only three years ago. In this time there have been too many successes to mention individually, however we are all very proud of winning the co-educational school trophy in the 2020 Secondary Schools’ Nationals.
With three training sessions a week that run all-year-round, we have become a close-knit and enthusiastic group of athletes.
A two-year fully-funded development project
For the last two years I’ve produced a weekly podcast in collaboration with colleagues, students and parents that narrates the daily life of a school and its inhabitants
The London Nautical School
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Head of Department for English
April 2013 – December 2016
The London Nautical School is a passionate and idiosyncratic boys’ foundation school situated on the South Bank of the Thames in the heart of London. As such it represents all that is wonderful about London. Not only does it have a rich history (The Nautical was set up as a response to the sinking of the Titanic and resides in a unique old building in Stamford Street) but it also embraces the diverse, multi-cultural modernity of Europe’s largest city.
In the four years of my tenure in the role of Head of Department for English, our key performance indicator, the Year 11 GCSE English results, progressed from a previous total of 58% A*-C in 2012 to 93% A*-C in 2016. In achieving this we took no short-cuts, and it was achieved in the context of unprecedented turbulence in the parameters of the national English exam specifications. To provide some context, the National average pass rate for boys in these same examinations is currently 53% A*-C.
The department ran on a model that encouraged a high degree of professional autonomy to the teaching team. As a result of the national recognition our You Choose class selection programme and Unlock Achievement badge-based assessment scheme received, we attracted the highest calibre of teachers. Everything we achieved started with the engagement and empowerment of the team, the results of which I feel immensely proud.
In my work as HOD of English at the London Nautical School I had the opportunity to put my philosophies of education to test. I acted on the belief that students thrive in environments where they feel they have agency. I considered the classroom to be the ‘real world’ and as such a venue for the most important work we can imagine a teenager can engage in. We focussed on ‘the now’ in our work at the Nautical School. Students would be offered meaningful choices in their learning and have to live with – and learn from – the consequences of these choices. Finally, and importantly, the students would encounter the toughest possible challenges in their everyday learning – and they would be supported to conquer these challenges – with no short-cuts.
As a school with a high proportion of students who come from backgrounds of disadvantage, and as a boys’ school, the students were nationally classified amongst the lowest performing groups in English. The fact that our boys achieved well above national averages on every measure, and that there was no achievement gap between various groups in the cohort, was the most significant testament to the impact of our innovative ways of working.
Teacher of English, Drama and Enrichment
September 2010 – April 2013
In my role as a classroom teacher of English, Drama and Enrichment I worked with 8 different groups from Year 7 to Year 13.
Even at the beginning of what has been a significant chapter in my career as a teacher, The London Nautical School facilitated my engagement in a range of exciting areas of innovation and creative practice. These included: Working with the BFI and a group of students to create films submitted to the Cinematheque Francaise international project, and piloting the scheme of online journalling for students in the classroom called Edutronic.net. Edutronic has gone on to receive international recognition.
Due to my active collaborative practice, students in my classes consistently outperformed their cohort in attainment and always enjoyed their learning. My lessons were judged to be outstanding by both internal and external observers.
- 2013 GCSE Pass Rate 63% 63%
- 2014 GCSE Pass Rate 75% 75%
- 2015 GCSE Pass Rate 85% 85%
- 2016 GCSE Pass Rate 93% 93%
- 2016 National Average for Boys 53% 53%
How our unique department workED
For 5 years I had the privilege of delivering an international film making programme run in association with the British Film Institute and the French film archive, the Cinémathèque Française.
This is a film learning programme like no other. Groups of students from all over Europe, South America and even Cuba engage in a year-long study of film making. Each year a specific element of film “vocabulary” is set by the film critic Alain Bergala. Mr Bergala determines the curriculum for the programme and his chosen element forms the theoretical focus for the year’s work. The students then pursue a rigorous process of viewing clips of films that demonstrate the techniques in question, performing short filmed exercises to explore these techniques in practice, and reflecting on their own and each others work.
The club has frequently travelled to Paris and Edinburgh to present their films as part of international festivals in each city. You can investigate their work more via their dedicated website.
As a nautical school, we ran an extensive sailing programme, including the Wednesday afternoon and Saturday sailing club. I provided on-water safety support for the club and as part of this have a current safety boat and VHF radio certification.
This group of students and teachers was responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring the equalities objectives for the school. We worked with the board of governors to develop the school’s long-term equalities objectives; we delivered equalities CPD training to teachers; we ran regular campaigns within the school, and consulted with teachers on curriculum choices. We were also the only secondary school group to have participated in the 2015 and 2016 London Pride march.
SOUTHBANK TEAM TRAINING
Every week an intrepid group of students and teachers headed out to the South Bank where I utilised all the public spaces and street furniture (and some of my knowledge from my previous life in the fitness industry) to run team fitness challenges.
A weekly club where a group of students worked towards the creation of an entry into a borough-wide dance competition, Step Into Dance.
The Leigh Technology Academy
DARTFORD, KENT, UNITED KINGDOM
Teacher of English
January – July 2010
The Leigh Technology Academy, in Dartford, Kent, is a secondary school judged “Outstanding” by Ofsted in October 2009. It is a school infused with enormous vigour for innovation and the whole facility was literally engineered around modern principles of large-class, integrated learning in a technology-rich environment.
As a teacher I worked as part of a collaborative team with classes from Year 7 to Year 11. I was responsible for the English learning for two classes at Year 10 and Year 11 who were preparing for their GCSE assessment in both Language and Literature.
The experience of working at The Leigh was a tremendous introduction to education in the UK. The similarities between it and the system in New Zealand far outweighed the differences, thus I found it easy to ‘hit the ground running’ in both the teaching and learning, and the wider school environment.
In the time since commencing work at the Leigh, some of the initiatives I took included; the implementation of an ability grouped intensive reading programme with the 60 Year 7 students, the running of a targeted GCSE revision programme and the training and support of colleagues new to the profession in the successful running of open-plan learning environments.
ProActive Health and Fitness
WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND
Group Fitness Instructor
April 2008 – December 2009
After a hiatus of a couple of years after moving to Wanaka I re-started my work as an instructor of BodyAttack and RPM. I derived great pleasure from teaching these group fitness classes to people from the town – many of whose kids I also taught at school.
Mount Aspiring College
WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND
Head of Department: English and Drama
January 2005 – January 2010
I could not have been more engaged in the role of teacher and academic leader than I was at Mount Aspiring College – and I could not have gained more from the experience.
Tucked in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, this school is privileged to have one of the most stunning natural environments at its doorstep. Inspired by this, we created a department that re-energised the teaching and learning of English for the 21st century.
As a review of the class web pages of the time will reveal, we turned everything on its head and placed the learner, and their curiousity, at the centre of our programmes. Entire courses were developed around themes such as “Future Dystopia” or “Teenage Anti-Hero” and the students chose the context and style within which they learned. The results in terms of both achievement and student engagement spoke for themselves – and this work formed the template on which my widely-recognised practice at the London Nautical School was founded.
The freedom of relative isolation and innovative attitude allowed us to explore some vital ways of integrating the learning from a range of curriculum areas. We embraced this autonomy and produced learning programmes that were influenced by industries such as journalism, online publishing and theatre.
In English, the traditional texts were thoroughly examined, but the insights gained by the students were taken to new dimensions.
MULTISPORT AND TRIATHLON
Our focus was on participation, but when students achieved competitive success there was an undeniable sense of achievement. Here’s some evidence
As the Head of Drama I was dedicated to developing this learning area in the school. When I took the position in 2005 there were 11 people in the senior programmes, and in 2009 the students in these elective Drama courses numbered 67 . Inevitably this involved extensive out-of-class involvements, including supporting and directing student entries into the Sheila Winn Shakespeare competitions, assisting with the Stage Challenge and many public performances held in the local town hall.
I was the chair of a group of teachers from Mount Aspiring College who were developing innovative ideas about how we could tackle learning as a school in the 21st century.
I was part of a group of teachers who supported the Year 9 outdoors camp every year. The camps involved experiences such as canyoning, abseiling, kayaking and multi-day tramping.
As part of a student support programme I ran a ‘bootcamp’ that encouraged young boys to get out of the confines of the school grounds and engaged in hard, fun, physical activity – to notably positive effect.
The debating team that teachers in the English Department worked hard to develop made the semi-finals of the hotly contested Debating Competitions in 2008. Two students were selected for the regional development team.
Cashmere High School
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
Teacher of English
July 2003 – January 2005
From the moment I started my career, I have striven for excellence as a teacher. The results of this have been apparent in the responses from students, the measurable development in their learning, and the evaluation of my peers.
[Download a copy of a classroom evaluation, performed by the principal of Cashmere High School.]
Christchurch Boys’ High School
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
Teacher of English
May 2003 – July 2003
The opportunity to work at Christchurch Boys’ came after my final term at the New Zealand Graduate School of Education, during which I spent 7 weeks on teaching practice there.
I was privileged to take over some of the school’s extension English classes at years 9 and 12. It was a great compliment to be entrusted with these students for a term, and I took every opportunity to develop my understanding of the special conditions that support learning development in high ability students.
Les Mills World of Fitness
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
Group Fitness Manager
June 1999 – September 2001
As Group Fitness Manager of Les Mills Christchurch, I was responsible to the General Manager for all financial planning and control within my department, personnel (recruitment, employment, training and performance management), internal marketing, rostering, membership satisfaction and facility management.
Group Fitness Instructor.
1996 – 2005
I taught a number of fitness classes at the local Les Mills gym. I like it so much that I had to push myself to place it in the ‘work experience’ part of this resume.
I’m a fully certified instructor of the Les Mills programmes BodyAttack, RPM and Bodycircuit. I’m an experienced National instructor trainer and I regularly present classes and training sessions at South Island training workshops.
Canterbury Student Broadcasting Ltd
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
1993 – 1998
As General Manager of Canterbury Student Broadcasting Limited, I was responsible to the board of directors for all financial planning and control, personnel (employment, training and performance management), strategic planning, innovation and day to day operations of its radio station and other media.
CSBL operated the radio station “rdu”, the Christchurch member of “b.net”; the NZ Student Radio Network, of which I was the chair; “Volume Magazine”, a free Christchurch community and culture publication and the “alternate” website.
[DOWNLOAD a copy of my written reference from the Board of Directors]
Radio 1, 91FM
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND
Full-time News Editor
July 1992 – October 1993
As News Editor I was responsible for the running and monitoring of all news broadcasts. I was directly responsible for the 60 volunteers who worked in my area.
Alongside the tasks of my specific job I was part of the Radio One Management Collective and responsible for: the planning (strategic and budgetary-including grant applications), appointment of staff, relationship with our employer O.U.S.A., internal communication, the maintenance of our equal opportunity policies, and the daily and long-term success of the station.
Tasks: Various, including: sound engineering, copy-writing, interviewing/announcing, record shelver…
Tasks: News-reading, announcing, Ski-report co-ordinator, trainee engineer.
References and Evaluations
Mount Aspiring College (2020), Wanaka, New Zealand. Phone +64 3 443 9901:
Hamish Crosbie, Acting Deputy Principal, Mount Aspiring College.
- [email protected]
- Phone 021881926
- Karenza Heath: Written Reference (Download)
The London Nautical School, Waterloo, London. SE1 9NA. Phone +44 020 7928 6801:
John Taylor, Deputy Headmaster, The London Nautical School
Dr Laura Ovenden, Head of Department for English, The London Nautical School (to April 2013)
Mount Aspiring College (2009), Wanaka, New Zealand. Phone +64 3 443 9901:
Wayne Bosley, Principal, Mount Aspiring College.
- Written Reference (Download)
Greg Thornton, Deputy Principal, Mount Aspiring College
Cashmere High School, Christchurch, New Zealand
David Turnbull, Principal, Cashmere High School
New Zealand Graduate School of Education
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND
Graduated: June 2003.
- Diploma in Secondary Teaching. (Dip Tch Sec)
University of Otago
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND
Matriculated: 1989 – Graduated: 1992.
- Degree: Bachelor of Arts
- Major: English (including: first-year papers in Classics, Philosophy and Economics; Drama at second-year level)
Otago Boys’ High School
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND
1984 – 1988
- Bursary: A Pass
- Awards: 1988 Blue for Drama.
National Association for the Teaching of English – Professional Journal: “Teaching English”
Download Article 1: “Why I’m out in the classroom“
Article 2: “Stick a Badge on it”
Film and Video Evidence
The following videos feature some highlights from my work in and out of the classroom. Featured are: My application to the NEITA teaching awards; Me presenting a motivational talk at an assembly; Me teaching Romeo and Juliet in the classroom; A collage of students presenting on their reading projects; The Mount Aspiring College 2009 Multisport team; A student performing a Shakespearian soliloquy; A presentation by me to teachers on being out; The Mount Aspiring College 2009 Multisport team; London Nautical School 2016 Equalities group pride march and .
I don’t believe in change for the sake of it; I strive to improve in every way I can. Here is a sample of the approaches I’ve developed to create better outcomes for my team and my students