As a founding member of Sands I’ve been teaching at the school since 1987. I was conventionally educated at Grammar School and Cambridge University and began my teaching career at Dartington Hall School, one of England’s few progressive schools.
Twenty years on and I remain enthralled by my job. I teach History and Geography to GCSE, cook lunch for the school with children twice a week, learn Spanish with 11-13 year olds, offer Yoga and Tai Chi in our extra-curricular slots. I also act as tutor for up to 10 students each year and help guide them through their academic schedules.
Each day presents me with new challenges and I feel that I go home fulfilled, tired and impressed by how mature and sensitive teenagers can be when given the chance. It seems that we’ve created a very special ‘homely’ place that is wonderful to work in as either student or member of staff.
In 1997 I became a father and my eldest daughter is now on the verge of joining us. The measure of my confidence in what we achieve here is reflected in the fact that I’m just as excited as my daughter at the prospect of her coming on to Sands.
In these 20 years I’ve learnt that good education needn’t involve coercing children into the classroom, shouting at them or bullying them into work. Happy children want to be busy and creating a happy school seems to be about finding teachers who enjoy the company of children, value their opinions and treat them as equals. But I also feel that alternative education, happy or not, should not be synonymous with less successful futures for our students. I want leavers to be able to go to top Universities or have prestigious careers or be T-shirt designers on a Balinese beach and I think we can offer that whilst maintaining an informal and caring environment.
“He has a lot of patience, he deals with a lot of things and he’s good at ghost stories.” – Joe
“Childish and nice.” – Lydia
“He’s fine, except for his jokes.” – Jonathan