Professional, playful and on the ball: new union president

5th November 2010 at 00:00
Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland praises its `absolutely dedicated' leader

"Bubbly" and "lively" are words that come up time and time again when people describe Pam Nesbitt, the new president of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland.

Mrs Nesbitt, who is headteacher of Barnhill Primary in Dundee, has two passions beyond the school gates: her family (she has two teenage daughters) and singing. In the past, she has sung with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra but the commitments of a headteacher put paid to that, and her musical exploits are now restricted to the Dundee Choral Union.

It was a dark day for Mrs Nesbitt when she received the news that karaoke would no longer feature at the union's annual conference, Greg Dempster, AHDS general secretary, recalls.

However, in their descriptions of Mrs Nesbitt, colleagues are also quick to point out she is a consummate professional.

One AHDS stalwart believes she will be good for the union because she is jovial and jokey; good at socialising and networking, but also in possession of a "serious side". She livens up meetings, says Mr Dempster, but is always "on the ball".

She is "absolutely dedicated and extremely enthusiastic and committed", he adds.

Mrs Nesbitt acknowledges her own optimistic attitude, which also seems to feed through to her senior management team at Barnhill, which was praised by HMIE last year for its "well-considered, positive approach". She was praised for her leadership.

The new AHDS president recalls how she was the "classic mini teacher" playing schools at the age of eight or nine. However, by the end of secondary she wanted to go to university and get a degree under her belt, so it was psychology, and in particular child psychology, that she set her sights on. That all changed when a neighbour mentioned a BEd at the then Dundee College of Education.

"It was just exactly the right thing to do," she says. "I love teaching and doing what I do."

In particular Mrs Nesbitt loves new developments, discovering new ways of working and how to do things better. "That's when you get the chance to make decisions and shape things," she says. "I'm not one of these people who just wants to be told what to do."

Mrs Nesbitt is an enthusiastic supporter of Curriculum for Excellence. She is determined to see it fully implemented, in spite of the financial climate.

"Quality of education is our core business," she says. "Lots of things were working well under 5-14 but it had compartmentalised the curriculum. In some cases, people were not focusing on the learning in the classroom, but the coverage of outcomes. Curriculum for Excellence is about the way children are learning and giving them the opportunity to think."

Another priority for Mrs Nesbitt over the coming year will be supporting leadership development. Barnhill Primary is her second headship - she was head of Park Place Primary in Dundee for five years. Climbing the career ladder was "natural" for her, she says.

Pam Nesbitt

Age: 44

Born: Dundee

Attended: Bell Baxter High, Cupar

Training: Dundee College of Education, achieving a BEd accredited by Dundee University; completed a masters in educational research at Dundee University

Current position: headteacher of Barnhill Primary in Dundee since 2008

Interests: singing and family.

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