We hear from the men and women at the front of the class about what inspired – and continues to inspire – them to take up teaching. Here’s the view from the headmaster’s office at Cranbrook School…
Dr John Weeds (Headmaster)
What motivated you to take up teaching?
I got into teaching after completing my Classics degree at Cambridge and then going on to do my PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) Durham University, which is where I met my wife Sarah. I absolutely loved Classics – especially the language, literature and history of Greece and Rome – and still do. I could think of no better way to retain my connection with the subject than by going out there and teaching it. I have been doing so ever since.
What brought you to and keeps you at your school?
Cranbrook for me is the jewel in the crown of this country’s education system. It combines all those qualities which make truly great schools: outstanding students, staff and support teams; a strong sense of tradition, but a willingness also to embrace change when necessary; immense potential. We could rest on our laurels – Outstanding OFSTED inspections, excellent A-level results, remarkable Oxbridge and Higher Education successes – but we don’t, because everyone at Cranbrook knows that the best is yet to come. Being part of the Fifth Centenary celebrations is excitement enough, but overseeing the first intake for several generations of 11 year olds via the Kent 11+ this year has been momentous.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job and its biggest challenge?
Teaching is still the most rewarding part of being in any school. Switching students on to the classical world and seeing them develop as students and scholars is always such fun and so fulfilling. On the leadership side, the challenges for us as a state school remain largely financial. My take on the ‘big squeeze’ is that, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. We have been remarkably resilient as a school and even though funding has been tight we have innovated when it would have been easier to take refuge. We have mounted a successful fundraising campaign to equip ourselves with a new Sixth Form Centre. We continue to refine our teaching and learning processes so that student-centred learning and student leadership remain defining characteristics. We have changed our age range so that a wider cross section of local children can come to this school. Our boarding community, one of the biggest in a state school in this country, has been judged Outstanding and is offering an ever wider range of activities and flexible boarding offers.