Director of Learning, English
I have been teaching at Westminster Academy since September 2011. I joined as a graduate on the Teach First programme, and was very well supported during my training here by an excellent mentor, a very supportive staff body and a well-structured CPD training programme, which covered all aspects of teaching and learning. When I found aspects of my training year difficult, there was always someone to turn to. My colleagues' advice and support was invaluable and helped me progress a great deal.
Through Teach First, and with the support of the school, I then undertook a Masters qualification at the IOE, focusing on educational leadership. This helped me progress even further, both in terms of my teaching and developing as a leader. I also took part in the Teaching Leaders programme, again supported by the school. This helped me a great deal in terms of understanding my strengths and areas for development.
I'm now Head of English and I help mentor and support teachers as they are developing their craft, whilst realising that I am still learning too! Teaching is a career where one never stops learning and developing, and I embrace reflection, openness and honesty.
As we embark upon the new curriculum changes in English, I feel both proud to work with such a great team of people - students and staff alike - and I'm excited for what lies ahead.
Teacher of Science
I joined Westminster Academy, just over a year ago, straight from university where I obtained a first class degree in BSc Biotechnology. Initially for the first academic year I worked as an LSA in the SEN department. I worked with numerous SEN students with a variety of different needs in various different lessons. This experience has proven to be invaluable as it taught me to apply classroom routines, differentiation and develop positive relationships with my students; all the time in different classroom settings. In September 2018 I moved to teaching in the Science Department with the intention of training as a science teacher; training which formally commenced this January. I have found this experience to be very rewarding. I realised, more than ever, that teaching goes beyond the classroom. WA provides numerous opportunities to students of all abilities from a range of different backgrounds (e.g Reach Out Lab, and Primary Science, enrichment days and extra curricular clubs), and encourages students to develop scientific minds using the latest technology and equipment.
WA offers incredible training, not only INSET days but also weekly CPD training which is fine-tuning my teaching practice. For example, alongside comprehensive safeguarding practice, I have been fortunate to attend training sessions in AFL and differentiation, which I have been able to apply in my classroom. Most significantly I am discovering how children learn. I have also found that forming positive and nurturing relationships is imperative for students to build confidence and resilience.
I feel very fortunate to be training at WA because from the outset I have been very well supported by my mentors, be it in the SEN or Science department and consequently I have had the benefit of learning from very experienced teachers. Having spent the majority of my life in a different country, adapting to a different education system could not have gone any smoother and it is thanks to the help of an amazing staff body!
I've been at Westminster Academy for eight years, having joined as a Teach First participant in the English Department. I was surrounded by a team of committed, passionate and experienced teachers, and had two fantastic mentors, so I always felt well supported as a trainee.
After completing my training I moved into middle leadership within the Sixth Form, and then joined the Senior Leadership Team as Assistant Vice Principal for Key Stage Five. I spent a few years there, and hugely enjoyed watching our Sixth Form expand and flourish, before being appointed Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning in 2017, and have really enjoyed being able to spend more time working with so many of our outstanding teachers.
P Farmbrough, Vice Principal, Teaching and Learning
Citizenship and RS Coordinator
I completed my Secondary School PGCE at UCL in 2017 which included two contrasting placement schools and lots of lectures focusing in on pedagogy lead by some of the best and most experienced teachers in education. This gave me great experience in terms of teaching pedagogy, behaviour management and teaching and learning. The placements meant I got to see how different schools ran and allowed me to gain knowledge and feedback from experienced, outstanding teachers.
I started WA as an NQT soon after completing my PGCE in September 2017; I was employed as a Humanities teacher specialising in Citizenship. I was straight away taken aback at how supportive all the staff were and what a positive, fast moving exciting workplace it was to train as a teacher. Here I got the chance to teach two GCSE Year 11 classes in Citizenship and RS and KS3 History and Geography classes. The challenge of teaching two different Year 11 GCSE classes as an NQT really allowed me to gain a deep knowledge of the GCSE curriculum, allowing me to gain great experience in terms of teaching and learning. Whilst completing my NQT year I had lots of support from my mentor, colleagues in my department and other departments. The staff body at WA is extremely supportive and positive, something I believe to be quite rare in a lot of workplaces and schools. The trainee sessions run by SLT for trainee teachers offered lots of useful CPD to further my teaching and learning skills and knowledge.
WA has offered me fantastic career progression whereby I have learnt a huge amount. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to apply for a promotion at the end of my NQT year to be head of Citizenship and RS. This opportunity has taught me lots in terms of management and leading a department. I was then given the opportunity to take on the Director of Learning role as paternity cover, leading the Humanities department.
Overall I have had an extremely positive experience training at WA and definitely hadn't imagined at the beginning of my teaching career that there would be this many opportunities in career progression so early on. My time here so far has been challenging, exciting and extremely rewarding and If you are looking for a job that has those qualities I would definitely recommend teaching, and teaching at WA.
Teacher of Music
I joined Westminster Academy in September 2018 and while I was initially apprehensive about beginning my Teach First placement, WA has made it a very enjoyable and rewarding experience so far. I immediately felt welcomed and accepted by my department who have given me a lot of opportunities to progress and improve including organising the audition process for the Winter Show, presenting case studies on INSET day and, more recently, beginning to plan an International Project. There is so much support on offer for trainee teachers, particularly the carefully selected mentors and the diverse range of weekly training sessions that are organised for both trainee teachers and NQTs.
It is clear across the school that staff feel supported and appreciated by the Senior Leadership Team, who are always encouraging and friendly, often taking time out of their day to ask how staff are doing when passing on the corridor.
My highlights so far include my choir’s brilliant performance in the Winter Show and taking on a Year 11 mentee, and I have no doubt that there will be many other fantastic opportunities to come!
Associate Director of Learning, EAL and Community
Having worked at Westminster Academy in a variety of roles, with varying degrees of responsibility since spring 2013, I have been lucky enough witness a great deal of positive change.
It is these changes and pace that make Westminster Academy such a fantastic school in regards to teaching practice and professional development.
The one constant has been the spark and dynamism of our pupils who are not only our motivation but our greatest strength at Westminster Academy.
We are lucky enough to welcome students from all around the world along with those born and brought up in the Borough of Westminster, our neighbouring boroughs and throughout London.
As our outstanding school is situated in one of the most deprived London boroughs this does bring challenges and at times barriers; many of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and trying personal circumstances. Supporting them in their strive not only for educational success, but also personal development and independence is hugely rewarding and fulfilling for all teachers and support staff.This is achieved because the Academy has high expectations for their students, underpinned by strict policies regarding respectful and responsible behaviour.
For instance, many of the students we teach are classified as EAL, meaning their first language is not English, having migrated to the UK often in challenging circumstances. With our support and their determination they manage to engage and progress steadily through the curriculum, and reach high qualifications gaining a strong sense of self belief.