Glen Hayes is the first person to be awarded excellent teacher status, an equivalent scheme to that of advanced skills teacher but where any support work with other staff is concentrated in your own school, not outside.
Mr Hayes is head of PE at ADT college in Wandsworth, south-west London.
With 29 years teaching under his belt, he still loves the job. More than that, he is passionate about helping other staff. He is ideal for the role: he has stacks of credibility, having worked there since 1992, plus additional skills developed as a qualified Ofsted inspector and GCSE PE moderator. In September, he joined the senior leadership team and has made a strong impact. The principal, David Durban, says: "Glen's an exceptional chap who's made a tremendous difference in just eight months."
Mr Durban was excited by the excellent scheme when he first heard of it because, "having someone with credibility working alongside teachers is just the way to improve teaching and learning". It was the principal's idea that Mr Hayes apply. He'd been on upper pay scale three for at least two years, and was recognised throughout the school for being a first-class teacher and someone who helped other staff in every subject.
In fact, his understanding of teaching and learning in general is what makes him more than just a talented head of PE. He's already been training other teachers in observation techniques - even the principal learned a lot from conducting a paired observation with him. Mr Hayes waited with bated breath for the application information to be on Teachernet* and set to work completing it as soon as the guidance came out in April.
So, what was the assessment like? His application made him write about how he met each of the standards, the impact of his coaching and mentoring, the professional development he'd done and why he wanted to have excellent teacher status. He had to write about some "searching analysis" he'd done that addressed the needs of a particular group of pupils but that had been of sufficient substance to have a positive impact beyond the pupils he teaches.
Though he found it challenging, he didn't find it too much different from similar procedures such as applying to cross the pay threshold. The surprise was the speed with which things happened once the application was posted. ADT was phoned the next day to set a date for the three-and-a-half hour long assessment - the very next week! Assessments of advanced skills and excellent teachers should take place within three weeks.
Proving that you make a difference is incredibly hard, but, pupils, trainees and colleagues wrote about his impact on them. He was chuffed:
"You think you're doing a good job but it's always nice when people say you are."
He set to work compiling all the evidence he'd been collecting for some time into a manageable format - and ended up with two folders. June McNaughton, who carried out the assessment, was impressed: "Mr Hayes had prepared well, setting the evidence out clearly and showing the clear impact he'd had on students and staff."
The lesson observation was nerve- wracking, but the assessor put Mr Hayes at his ease. She observed him teaching the triple jump to Year 8 outside - yes, there was a back-up lesson for indoors. Inspiring the pupils with information about Jonathan Edwards' 1995 world record jump, Mr Hayes marked the points at which the athlete hopped and then the length of the jump. The pupils loved it and did their best.
Both Mr Hayes and his prinicipal were impressed by the assessment, agreeing that it was positive - but rigorous.
So what will he have to do now that he has excellent teacher status? As well his teaching, he'll be responsible for trainees and the induction of newly qualified teachers, He'll mentor colleagues; give demonstration lessons; and help staff evaluate the impact of their teaching on pupils through classroom observations.
Has having a member of staff with excellent teacher status been divisive? Not at all. Staff at ADT have been genuinely delighted at Mr Hayes well-deserved success. Mr Durban says: "He's the glue that holds it all together."
* www.teachernet.gov.ukmanagementpayandperformancepayExcellent_Teacher_Sc heme
* Sara Bubb is an external assessor of excellent teachers (email@example.com). Her 'Helping Teachers Develop', pound;15.99, is published by SagePaul Chapman