“You’re an inspiration to countless people; recognising potential, creating chances and shaping us into all we’ve become. You make things around you better. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will always look up to you. You are a true gift.” Ewa, former teacher
I was born in South Africa and educated around Africa and in Ireland and the UK.
My mum and my aunts were all teachers, so although I didn’t always think I would be a teacher it was inevitable that I would find myself studying teaching at North London University.
Since then, I’ve worked in several schools, led two schools and have experienced all the education-related challenges and joys you can imagine. I’ve set up a new school, turned around a failing school, supported a range of schools and educators and worked to transform the lives of thousands of children.
My teaching journey
“It’s been an honour serving with you at Northwold during the most challenging, testing, interesting and rewarding years of the turnaround. It has been a pleasure to meet and work with you – someone whom I have learnt a lot from and admire very much.” School Governor
After completing my teacher training I taught infant classes for three years before becoming a Year 6 teacher and maths coordinator at Gayhurst School in Hackney. After one year I was appointed as Deputy Headteacher. I stayed at Gayhurst until 1999.
In 1999 I became the founder Headteacher of Betty Layward School, which was built in response to a sharp increase in the under-five population in Stoke Newington, London. We grew to become a highly successful school, the most oversubscribed in the borough; noted for our dynamic curriculum and strong leadership.
Thanks to my work at Betty Layward, during 2008 I was asked to go to the Local Authority-managed Northwold School in Hackney to act as Executive Headteacher before a visit from Government school inspectors. The school was failing and had a high turnaround of leaders and teachers; with staffing attendance at just 64%.
Thanks to the hard work of my team, under my leadership we grew from a failing school in the bottom 1% of schools to a highly successful school in the top 0.1%. We achieved high results and success throughout my headship. One of the key reasons that the school was so successful was that we invested in staff wellbeing and, as a result, could recruit a talented team and sustain staffing attendance at 97% and above.
When I left Northwold in 2017, after taking it through the academy conversion process, it was the highest performing school in the borough, third in London and 70th nationally.
I remain so proud of all the work I did at Northwold. A happy school, where staff and pupil wellbeing were paramount, we were honoured to become pupil progress, pupil attainment and pupil premium award winners; and to be given Regional Schools Commissioner model school status.
Since leaving Northwold I’ve been working as a consultant and speaker. I founded Above & Beyond in 2017.