Frances Nation, PGCE 7-14
Mother | Office Worker | Ofsted Inspector
I was working for a housing association, part-time whilst bringing up my two children, before I started my PGCE at Christ Church.
I remember clearly being in the photocopying room at work and thinking that I didn’t want to be there in 10 years’ time. I was 40 years old and knew I needed to change things in my life to find fulfilment in my work. I am now 56, so it is never too late to change direction in life.
I had been to Christ Church to do my initial degree back in the early 1980s and had very fond memories of my time there. In those days it was much smaller than it is now. I live in Canterbury so it was a natural place to train as a teacher. Christ Church also has an excellent reputation for teacher training.
The course changed everything. I never thought I wanted to be teacher, in fact, my mother told me that I wouldn’t make a good teacher. However, she was wrong, and in teaching I found something I was really good at. I trained to be a teacher thinking I would do some supply work to fit in around my children who were 13 and 11 at the time.
Things have worked out very differently! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach primary or secondary age children, so I chose to do the 7-14 course. This was perfect as I was able to undertake teaching practices in both primary and secondary and then choose which age range I wanted to do my final practice in.
I was with a group of interesting students who were a mix of ages. We had the most amazing teaching, which really challenged our thinking. I really enjoyed studying again and learning. This was something that I had not been so diligent about in my youth!
Now I work as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools (HMI) for Ofsted. I have had two headships in Kent both of which I have greatly enjoyed.
In the spotlight:
What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a teacher?
It is really important to work in a school where there is strong and supportive leadership, schools are very different. My first job was in a school with a very forward looking head teacher who mentored and developed me, supporting me to take risks and develop my practice.
As a direct result of this, I became the best teacher I could, took on leadership responsibilities and ended up supporting others. Part of being a great teacher is to constantly reflect on your work, listen and learn from others and be adaptable. I am now in the privileged position of working as an HMI for Ofsted where I go into many schools and see lots of different styles of leadership and different approaches.
What's the best thing about teaching?
Teaching is a complex job, it is tremendously hard work but also rewarding and fulfilling. I have enjoyed learning new things, forming strong relationships with children and adults, and working as part of a team. I enjoy sharing ideas, making things happen and being creative.