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Teaching with United Learning: Journey to Headship

Teaching with United Learning: Journey to Headship

We spoke with Kim Williams and Emma Gilder about their experiences of teaching in a United Learning school and their respective ongoing journeys to Headship.

Kim joined Avonwood Primary School as Year Leader for EYFS nearly eight years ago after feeling like she had exhausted her progression opportunities at her previous school. Wanting to develop further in her career, she went on to pursue Headships, and was promoted to Assistant Headteacher and then Deputy Headteacher within two years. 

Emma started her journey to Headship after teaching for ten years, spending seven years in London before joining Avonwood as Head of English in 2019. In 2022, Emma completed the United Learning funded ‘World Class Managers’ course, which led to her appointment as Associate Assistant Headteacher. 

Speaking on the CPD opportunities she has been offered, Kim said: “I am currently working towards an Apprenticeship MSc in Education Leadership and Management, which will enable me to become a Head in the future. I also completed a secondment to Beacon View to support the Regional Director and Headteacher on their school improvement journey, further supporting my quest in becoming a Headteacher.”  

Emma is also pursuing future Headship, saying: “I am completing a National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership (NPQSL) with a view to becoming a future Headteacher.” 

Kim decided she wanted to teach after reconnecting with her college tutor. She said: “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left college – but knew I needed to do something fulfilling, where every day is different. I reconnected with my college tutor who suggested I might be a good fit for teaching, and off I went to university. I loved school, it was my safe place and somewhere I loved going every day. I thought that having a school as my place of work would help me to enjoy my job, and it does.” 

Emma, on the other hand, was inspired by her Mum’s teaching career, and her own school experience. She said: “I was inspired by my Mum who has worked in education for around 25 years, but my own experience as a child definitely played a part too. I had the opposite experience to Kim as I really struggled in school, particularly in Maths, and felt as though some teachers held me back with the subject and in learning in general. I wanted to go into education to help children who perhaps find learning difficult, to build relationships and help them to learn so they don’t struggle like I did.” 

Kim explained her favourite part of her role, saying: “Education has always been my passion and I would say the enjoyment of my job is my favourite part – I love coming to work. I also really enjoy the safeguarding and pastoral elements of my role, as these are about supporting the whole child and not just their education.”  

Emma said: “My passion is English, reading and writing, so it’s nice to have time to go out into classrooms and deliver workshops on these. I’m passionate about curriculum and as part of my Associate Head role, I get to work on the wider United Curriculum and improve the quality of teaching broadly.” 

Leaving some words of advice for any aspiring teachers or Heads, Kim said: “If you’re ambitious, you can achieve. It’s a great career, but it is a career – not just a job. You have to be committed and prepared to work hard, but you are rewarded with lots of scope to develop and progress.” 

Emma added: “You’ve got to be passionate, open-minded, adaptable, and flexible. There’s so much more to the job than teaching.” 

If you’re looking to start your journey into teaching, register your interest for 2024 now. 

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