Clare Tasker

I studied for my first degree at Cambridge University, after which I decided to take a year ‘out’. During that year I went to China and taught English. On returning from China I joined the Department of Education at Oxford.

I completed my PGCE in secondary History at Norham Gardens in 1997 (and was appointed to my first teaching post the day before Tony Blair won the election in 1997)!  I have worked in three different comprehensives in Sheffield and am currently Co-Headteacher at Tapton school.  I joined the school five years ago as Deputy Headteacher and when the Headteacher became CEO of the Academy Trust the other ‘Head of School’ and I decided to apply to be Co-Headteachers.  We like this approach to leadership and believe it works; our strengths are different yet complementary and our different personal and academic backgrounds (he is a scientist) ensure we both bring a different perspective. More importantly, we both lead different areas of the school but ensure they have equal status and importance.

The power of a partnership was something I learnt on my PGCE.  The Internship programme is excellent and the time I spent reflecting, discussing, collaborating ( and moaning) with my partner made me more successful and happier.  That is not the only reason I thoroughly enjoyed my PGCE. I relished the opportunity to extend my specialism; I took the courses on drama teaching and SEN ( Special Educational Needs) and I liked the opportunity to work in cross curricular groups as well as just with the historians.  I lead Teaching and Learning) (T&L) , Continuing Professional Development  (CPD ) and Leadership Development at Tapton and the model of working with departments/teams as well as in cross-curricular groups is the key to the success of our T&L development. In 2013 we were judged by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) to be outstanding in all areas with no areas for improvement, and in 2014 we were named ‘Sunday Times Comprehensive of the Year’.

I also very much enjoyed the very positive attitude to state education adopted at Norham Gardens, and I enjoyed the internship model where you spend most of the year in one school and become part of the staff.  This has inspired our approach to School Direct at Tapton.

Finally, the staff were amazing. My tutors were inspirational and not remotely adrift from schools, the classroom and young people.  Unlike other tutors at other universities, they looked utterly at home when they visited us in school, which made me value their feedback even more. And I also relished the range and diversity of my fellow students.  Time back at the Department was full of discussions, ideas and much laughter.

My year at Norham Gardens was a wonderful start to my career in teaching. I am thoroughly enjoying my work as a Co-Headteacher at a thriving comprehensive secondary school and feel very excited and positive about the future. At Tapton, we have recently put together a new School Improvement Plan – aptly named ‘Vision 2014 +’. The strategic aims outlined in the plan are very aspirational, and my personal goal is to make them a reality.