Advanced skills teacher: Smart move for ICT teacher

Why did you decide to become an advanced skills teacher?
I’d been involved in outreach work through ICT and NQT training and reached a point where I needed to move on. The AST role allowed me to move forward and to retain the outreach element of my role. I see myself as a doer, dislike paperwork, and I didn’t really want the bureaucracy and endless meetings that go with most leadership positions. Besides, I love teaching and being in the classroom

What were you doing before?
I was formerly a head of department in a secondary school in Birmingham. I managed and led a team of five or so teachers and worked with them to improve and maintain results at Key Stages 3-5. For the last five years worked as an ICT PGCE tutor at the University of Warwick and it was this dual role that led me to want to be an AST. The skills I gained from these previous roles were crucial in providing the experience and knowledge needed to apply and complete the AST process.

What does the role involve?
My main role involves supporting the head of department and the other ICT teachers in my school for three days a week, as well as teaching my normal lessons. The ways I provide support include making suggestions for appropriate ICT courses; help for teaching staff and NQTs through planning; work with KS4 underachievers and the preparation of KS5 provision for our new sixth form. For the remaining two days of the week, I run the ICT PGCE course at Warwick University which involves delivering seminars and visiting my trainees when they’re on placement. This gives me the opportunity to visit a number of different schools in the West Midlands area which is great as I get to meet lots of other ICT teachers, and share experiences and resources which I then bring back to my own school and classroom.

What are the best bits?
Getting to do two different jobs and spending the majority of my time in the classroom. I love teaching especially young people who perhaps aren’t as successful in education as they could be. I’m lucky in that I build a good rapport with difficult young people and am able to create a positive working environment quickly.

What are the challenges and how do you overcome them?
The AST job is very fluid and depends on where you work and what you specialise in, compared to a head of department role that has the same key responsibilities. I sometimes worry I don’t do enough whole school projects because I spend the majority of my time within my own department. To overcome these difficulties, I’ve had meetings with my headteacher to find out what she sees as my key responsibilities and to make sure that my skills and abilities are being used to their fullest extent. I’ve also been talking to other ASTs to find out what they do in their roles.

Why should others consider becoming an AST?
You should consider becoming an AST if you like having a job where there are no boundaries to what you can do, you set the agenda. It’s about looking at whole school issues and thinking about where you can make the most difference. It’s also totally focussed on improving teaching and learning and that’s probably the aspect I like best.


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