Jon Jones is Vice Principal at Bristol Brunel Academy – Part of The Cabot Learning Federation. He took some time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about how and why he got into teaching, and his career path into leadership.
What was your motivation for getting into teaching?
Teaching has always been an interest for me, my first real experience was coaching at my judo club and teaching rugby at my local primary school while I was in 6th form. I caught the bug! I discovered that I enjoyed seeing students I had coached feeling success as I was playing sport myself, at that point I knew it had to be teaching and, following my passion for sport, it had to be PE.
Which route into teaching did you take and where did you study? What made you choose this route?
I followed a traditional route in to teaching, directly from my A level study I moved on to a Bachelor of Education degree in Physical Education (Geography supportive) at The University College of St. Mark and St. John. This offered QTS and a depth of study and teaching experience spread across the four years.
What was your experience of teacher training like?
I found the support and guidance I received prepared me well for my newly qualified teacher (NQT) year, though I am sure a lot of the success I had through that year came from having a strong head of department and the support they offered. As I have moved in to senior leadership I spend a lot of my time interviewing NQTs and those new to the profession, I really enjoy this part of my job, the calibre of candidates is constantly improving. The methods of getting in to teaching are evolving, recently the Cabot Learning Federation began providing initial teacher training, the support offered to trainees and NQTs through this school-led approach is impressive. As a general rule those new colleagues who go on to be really successful are those who see their teaching practice as a journey, they are constantly seeking to evolve their own practice and improve what they do in their classroom to better meet the needs of their students.
What is the best thing about teaching?
I wake up every morning and look forward to coming to work! The students are inspirational, the colleagues both teaching and non-teaching are passionate about the work they do and share the same moral purpose. Most importantly for me is that every day we go to work we build a future for our young people, we lift a community and create successful individuals – every day we make a difference.
How many years did it take you to progress from newly qualified teacher (NQT) to your current role?
I began my NQT Year in September 2002, and my career progressed as follows:
- Head of Year in 2004
- Zone Team Leader ( Head of Faculty ) in 2009
- Head of Post 16 in 2010
- Associate Assistant Principal in 2011
- Assistant Principal 2012
- Vice Principal 2013
- Currently applying for my National Professional Qualification for Headship – NPQH
What support did you encounter to make the transition?
I received a wealth of support through The CLF to support my leadership development. I enrolled in the first round of the Emerging Senior Leaders Course run by the CLF and Sir David Carter. This allowed me opportunities to work with other colleagues who were aspiring to leadership roles. I also had the opportunity of a secondment to another CLF academy where I had the opportunity to shadow senior leaders. Crucial to this was the support of senior leaders and Principals, I have had the opportunity of working with inspirational leaders who have given me the time and space to develop and build my own practice as well as the responsibilities and opportunities to take on a range of challenges to test my developing leadership skills.
How have your responsibilities/day to day work changed as you have progressed?
With each step the responsibilities have changed and grown, day to day this means less teaching and more strategy.
Any advice for trainees aspiring to progress quickly?
My advice to anyone wishing to progress quickly would be to seize every opportunity that becomes available, this could be anything from supporting a colleague to build an assessment spreadsheet, taking part in a learning walk or chairing a meeting, grab these chances to grow your leadership skills. Find a course that can support you, the National College courses for middle and senior leaders – National Professional Qualification for Senior Leaders and Middle Leaders are fantastic courses offering this type of development. My final piece of advice would be to watch and learn, I have taken most of my advice from watching great leaders at work, seeing how they interact with staff, lead briefings, manage change and so on has been my best CPD.
What are the main factors that have contributed to your swift career progression?
There’s one key factor for me that has led to my swift career progression and that is hard work!
For more information on getting into teaching, visit our website