National Teaching Awards 2004

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
Michael Duffy meets regional winners who have been shortlisted for the national final. This week: Ray Speakman, West Midlands winner of the lifetime achievement award

What do you do when you retire? In Ray Speakman's case, you keep on working. Deep into the holidays he was still at it, helping to run a summer school that he started five years ago. "It's a wonderful way of creating optimism and enjoyment," he says. "It's impossible to believe, when you see it, that this school was in special measures."

His school is Nicholas Chamberlaine in Bedworth, Warwickshire. As deputy head for 21 years and as an inspiring teacher of literature and drama, he has, the judges say, done as much as anyone to help the school and its pupils overcome their difficulties. "Not true," he says, identifying the arrival of the present head as the turning point: "A leader with a clear vision, an instinct for what is right and lots of ways of making people feel proud and raising morale."

He was co-founder and director of the Birmingham Youth Theatre, and has written for television and the stage, but Ray's real love is for his school and for teaching. He is fascinated by the power of a school to lift its community, and the power of teaching to develop understanding.

It was a teacher who taught him that. At his grammar school in Cheshire, Robert Westall (not yet the children's author he became) taught art. "One day Robert asked me to keep an eye on his class. I talked to them about their work, and he must have listened. 'You're a born teacher,' he said. I decided then that that was what I was going to be. I've never regretted it." But retirement beckons. Well, partial retirement. Above all, he wants to help and encourage his wife, who is ill with bone cancer.

Back to the awards. What would he say to the Secretary of State, Charles Clarke, if he were to meet him? "I'd tell him that schools are incomparably better than when I started. We should celebrate this and stop looking for quick fixes."

The final of the Teaching Awards will be held in London on October 24 and will be broadcast on BBC2 in early November. Nominations for next year's awards are open at www.teachingawards.com

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now