I remember, when I was at school, my Year 4 teacher delivering a lesson about Homer’s Odyssey. I absolutely fell in love with the story of Odysseus fighting it out with giants, sirens and sea monsters, and have been lucky enough to study the ancient world ever since. I have now been teaching about it for more than nine years and remain as fascinated as ever by people who are so different from us, yet still so familiar.
I started teaching classical civilisation at Blackpool Sixth Form College in 2006 where, to be honest, the subject was rather underperforming. We had a total of 20-odd students with consistently low grades and value-added scores. As a Classics teacher I am passionate about making the ancient world both accessible and relevant to 21st-century students – and I strongly feel that this type of subject can be a major tool in broadening horizons and raising aspirations, particularly in an area such as Blackpool.
I want my students to know where their society comes from, where they come from – to see that ancient Greece and Rome have often been whitewashed, and that the problems we face today aren’t a million miles away from the problems faced 2,000 years ago. As a "sand grown'un" (a person hailing from Blackpool), it has been a really fantastic journey for me to see the subject take off. We now have more than 200 students, grades have improved massively and – more important – my students are embarking on amazing experiences and careers, propelled by their study of the ancient world.
To win the TES FE teacher of the year award was really fantastic. I was hugely honoured and thrilled even to have been shortlisted, let alone to have won. My college nominating me was a lovely gesture, and it was amazing to receive national recognition for myself – and for my traditionally "dry" subject to be viewed as vivid, fresh and engaging.
Winning the award has given me a springboard to get more involved with our partner high schools and has given the subject even more of a profile. It has been great fun going into our high schools and primary schools to give different taster sessions. From a personal perspective, I’ve been more involved in our teaching school and alliance providing CPD sessions. It has been really refreshing to share my teaching philosophies with others.
Peter Wright is the winner of the 2015 TES Further Education Teacher of the Year Award. For details on how to enter the 2016 TES Further Education Awards, please visit: http://www.tesfeawards.co.uk/