We speak to Liam Anderson, a passionate and ambitious design and technology teacher from Berkshire, who says becoming a governor has given him a more in-depth view of school life and boosted his professional development.
He tells us how he brings his designer’s eye and creative skills to a governing board, what he's learnt from being a governor, and in turn, how it's affected his teaching in a positive way.
I’ve been a design and technology teacher for nearly 8 years - how time flies!
The best part of my job is the excitement and buzz of creative thinking from my students, and seeing them bringing their ideas to life in 3D forms. It’s always a great moment when their ideas and concepts come together.
I particularly enjoy teaching exam groups (GCSE and A-level) where students have more creative freedom as developed designers; students have designed electric vehicle charge points, upcycled clothing and fashion products, sustainable bamboo stationary, fitness safety products, and we’ve even had students create resin jewellery products, using waste fruit and vegetables, which they got to present to industry professionals at the V&A Museum.
The main challenge of teaching design and technology is trying to get others to see what a fascinating and inspiring subject it is. It’s an important part of the curriculum in a world where everything that isn’t natural has been designed and made by somebody! It starts with the creative thinkers and innovators, which are borne from inspiring the next generation through D&T and other creative subjects in schools.
The best part of my job is the excitement and buzz of creative thinking from my students
I became a school governor in February 2022 at a primary school in Newbury, West Berkshire. My role is focused on curriculum development, a central focus in schools, and also really interesting for me as a teacher.
I learnt a lot from being part of the school’s headteacher appointment panel - alongside inspiring and experienced members, from ex-headteachers to someone working in children's services. It was great to see how the selection process worked at a senior level (very different from appointing a classroom teacher) as there’s so much to consider about the candidates vision and direction, leadership style, prior skills and experience. I was involved in designing the interview tasks that helped us assess their ability in these areas, and gave us lots to consider when making a choice.
Being a governor's helped me better understand how decisions made by school senior leaders filter down to day-to-day classroom work with staff and pupils.
In my short time as a governor I’ve gained so many new insights and perspectives about the 360-view of school life, including top level decisions about operational and strategic leadership, and the management of a school. It’s also helped me better understand how decisions made by school senior leaders filter down to day-to-day classroom work with staff and pupils. As a governor I‘ve also been involved in rich discussions with senior leaders about the curriculum, which has helped me reflect on what I do in my own practice leading the curriculum as a head of department.
As a designer, you’re constantly analysing systems and processes, and thinking critically about how these could be developed and improved. This critical reflection has been the most useful skill I’ve brought to the board, alongside my ability to challenge and support school practices and systems. As a governor with a focus on the curriculum I‘ve also used my design knowledge to support, question and challenge the thinking behind the school’s curriculum vision, structure and sequencing, and how these components are brought together into a successful outcome.
Just go for it! I was initially unsure whether I’d be over committing my time, but I also really wanted the opportunity to develop professionally. I’m just over a year in and I’ve found the role much more manageable than I expected. The school and my governing board have been very flexible when it comes to school visits and speaking with staff, and we’ve managed to fit it in around my day job.
The school have been very flexible - I've managed to fit being a governor around my day job.
I’ve always had a real thirst for professional learning and have been restless with wanting to do and achieve more personally and professionally. I wrote the chapter to hopefully share with others how they can best develop professionally and filter through my enthusiasm for ongoing professional learning. It’s so important to support the next generation of teaching talent and it’s great to be a small part of that for the design and technology teaching community.
I would love to become a headteacher one day - that’s my long-term goal! Currently I’m loving the experience of being a school governor, where I’m gaining new skills and learning about school operations and strategy that will certainly put me in a good stead for future headship!
Follow Liam on Twitter: @LiamTAnderson
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