Fiona McGregor had never even heard of Hartlepool when she was allocated her Teach First school there in 2011. But after proving herself as a talented leader in the north east for over five years, the area is now well and truly her home.
When I received the phone call from Teach First to say they had placed me at a school in Hartlepool, I knew it was going to be interesting as I had never even heard of the town. I’m from Scotland, and my initial plan was to head back there after completing my two years on the programme, but I decided to stay on to see my pupils through to their exams in Year 11.
During my time there I benefited from numerous Teach First CPD and mentoring sessions, in addition to attending their school leadership retreat and taking part in their School Pathways scheme. Thanks to these opportunities, when a quick succession of leadership opportunities presented themselves I was well-placed to make the most of them. By the time my class reached Year 11, I was also their Head of Year, leading a staff of 30 within the school.
There are so many leadership opportunities... you’re really pushed and supported to succeed.
I loved Hartlepool, the school and its students, but in 2017 I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take on a new challenge within another crucial Teach First community, and headed further north to Gateshead. It meant taking a major demotion, joining Thomas Hepburn Academy as a science teacher, but within six months I’d been promoted to Assistant Principal. And that’s the thing about Teach First partner schools; there are so many leadership opportunities for the right people with the right ideas, and you’re really pushed and supported to succeed.
The North East itself is such excellent area to live in; with a fantastic mix of beautiful countryside and vibrant cities, there really is something for everyone here.