I’m in my 60s now. I took early retirement after more than 30 years as a teacher, which included 20 years as a Secondary Head (Principal), mainly in Christian schools. Among other things, teaching means working with a team of experts, who love their fields enough to want to help others to learn them. This makes most schools and colleges fascinating places, built on creativity and committed to excellence, where everyone learns and grows.
I benefited greatly from that, always being challenged to develop and grow, learning new skills and understanding.
I have been a dedicated image-maker since taking a short course in photography, using a borrowed camera, at school, when I was 16. I have lived and worked through the radical changes from darkrooms and chemicals to pixels and electronics. Digital has now enabled what I always believed that video, film, still images and designs are all aspects of the same thing: capturing and communicating a viewpoint and a vision.
I have been privileged to do work across a wide range of images and image creation: print and publishing; event photography; image-rich presentations; film-making (especially in dance and performing arts); portraiture; commercial photography; nature and macro photography; astrophotography and a range of visual design.
I have always been a “semi-pro”: using skills in my main job and taking on occasional commissions as well as doing favours for people and contributing time and know-how to causes and missions I believe in. I have my own professional gear for photography and video.
I’m a fully qualified teacher with over 30 years’ experience. I’ve taught from primary school to post-graduate levels. My specialisms were IT and Religious Education, but I spent most of my career leading teams of teachers, including 20 years as Head Teacher (Principal) of large secondary schools. This meant that I was involved in (and taught) across the whole curriculum, developing a passion for the teaching and learning of all subjects.
I firmly believe that learning, and so growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, is what best defines us as human beings. Good learning, and being a good learner, is essential to a fulfilled life. Education, and determinedly working to ensure a high quality education for every citizen, should be at the very centre of our national life. The creativity which learning allows is the best hope for our species and our planet.
From personal experience over many years, I came to believe that the English school curriculum, especially since it became intensely political and falsley “accountable” under Margaret Thatcher and governments since, makes good learning, and becoming a good learner, much harder than it should be. The lack of educational imagination and ambition, coupled with the rigid control and lack of investment in it, are the root of many of our problems as a nation.
I have always written and love to communicate in words on a page or in front of an audience. I have written professionally for most of my life, everything from papers, manuals and learning materials, to published books and pamphlets. I have also always enjoyed crafting words to be spoken or presented to an audience. I was a presenter and journalist in local radio and have been a critic, especially in dance and dance theatre.
The more I have written, the more I have come to understand how complex and subtle written communication is. There is a world of language to explore and the further we reach into it, the more surprises come our way. Like any form of art or craft there are clear rules that will take you some of the way, but in the end you simply have to write as you feel and think. If that evokes a response, that’s great, but as in all art, ultimately we do it because we must. It comes from inside us and will out.
I was in at the start of the IT revolution and have been involved all along. I started computing by hand-coding punch cards and posting them to a mini-computer facility in the next town, receiving a print out in the post a week or so later. I became Head of IT at the country’s largest (and most innovative) school and went on to do a Masters in Educational Computing as well as teaching IT to University level for many years.
My role opened doors to many exciting projects. I contributed to the BBC/Open University microcomputer programme in the 1980s (which some credit with launching the home computer boom in the UK), which meant that I was involved with a number of pioneering initiatives, especially in IT education. The team I led built one of the first microcomputer networks in any school, gave Apple feedback on one of the very first Macs and installed and ran one of the first DTP systems in UK education. I also worked with government, being part of Her Majesty’s Inspectors first publication on IT education and contributing to the first English National Curriculum in Technology.
I have good current skills in web development and still keep my hand in with designing, programming and setting up IT sysems.
I’ve been interested in the environment, and the living things that we share it with, since I was a small child. While at University, I worked as an “ecology ranger” with Milton Keynes Development Corporation. A new city was being built on countryside, but with a commitment that the development should enahnce the natural environment. Our team surveyed and advised on what was already there. We looked after vast tracts of land that had been taken over, but was not yet ready to be built on and we looked after protected environments (such as pockets of ancient forest or wetland). We also did work to engage the public with the new city’s environment.
Unfortunately, like almost all jobs in ecology, salary levels meant it was not sustainable for very long and there was nothing like a “career structure”, plus I very much wanted to teach.
I’ve retained that interest alongside heavy commitments in education and IT. These days, I record birds, primarily in my own garden, and I am taking a strong interest in the plants and animals of my new home in the New Forest.
I love to look after soil and coax it to grow things. When I took early retirment I spent a day a week for a year at Plumpton College, gaining my RHS level 2 in practical horticulture. Over time, I’ve had two allotments and several gardens, but I have never really had to the time to devote to them.
The garden I have taken over here is almost entirely covered in paving at the moment, but it is well proportioned, and has an established pond. There are challenges: it faces north-east and New Forest soils are poor. Ours is very sandy, which gives great drainage, but poor fertility. On the other hand, we now live in one of the sunniest parts of the UK, which is noticeably much milder in winter than where we have lived before. One of my big projects now is to design and develop this garden well, now I have time to do so.