Fathima Fareeda

Year Leader

From teacher to Lead Practitioner

Who I Was

Teaching young children has always been my passion and I have always wanted to be a teacher since a very young age. Consequently, I did my initial teacher training in the Maldives and was awarded an Advanced Level Certificate in Teaching Primary on 21st December 1994. Since then, I have been teaching primary children, with intermittent breaks for further education. I also achieved a Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language from the National Educational Institute, Sri Lanka and I successfully completed a School Management Diploma in Singapore, all of which provided me with knowledge and skills to take a senior leadership role in schools. I also had the opportunities to teach in Sri Lanka and Singapore, which developed my intellectual skills and enriched my teaching experience.

I was appointed as the Head of a popular primary school, with over a thousand students, amid a political crisis in the region. Despite this obstacle, I succeeded in bringing stability to the school community and managed the school effectively. Recognising my success as an educator, I was offered a part-time teacher training role by the Maldivian University. Later, I was appointed as a full-time lecturer and teacher-training coordinator with the responsibility of Head of Faculty of Education, at the regional Campus. I held this position for two years and trained over 120 primary teachers, who are currently serving in the education sector.

My Fall and Rise

My teaching career in the UK began when I joined Charles Dickens Primary school in 2008, as a teaching assistant. This change resulted in seeing myself as ‘a weed out of place’, having previously held leadership positions in education. In my struggle to adapt in this new role, I had to take a long break due to my maternity at the beginning of the Academic Year of 2009. This was perhaps for the best as I needed to accept and embrace the change. For almost three years, I did not think of going back to work because I wasn’t sure that pursuing a career in education in the UK was the right thing for me, until I had an email from one of the senior leaders at Charles Dickens Primary School, asking me if I was ready to return to work. This email made me feel that my work was appreciated, so I decided to take the opportunity to work for people who saw the spark in me.

Once again, the Charles Dickens family welcomed me as a teaching assistant in the April of 2012. As soon as I returned, I felt a change in the school culture; I felt more visible. Cassie Buchanan, who was then the headteacher, informally asked me to consider getting the HLTA (higher level teaching assistant) qualification, which was agreed in my end-of-year review with my appraiser as my professional target for the following year. I cannot overemphasise the importance of the professional discussions such as 1:1 catch-ups and termly appraisals that I had with my line manager to understand how much I was valued, as well as the support that was available for me.

When I presented my evidence for achieving the HLTA status, the school acknowledged my credentials, including the accreditation of my teacher status as an ‘overseas qualified teacher’ by the UK NARIC. Consequently, I started a new position as a PPA cover teacher in 2014, but I was determined to scrap my ‘unqualified teacher’ job title. Despite my previous teaching experience and qualifications, I was not able to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK. I had to complete both a bachelor’s degree in education and pass skills assessments to demonstrate my ability to teach young children in the UK before I could apply for the ‘Assessment Only Route to Teaching’. I achieved a first-class honours degree and QTS, none of which would have been possible without the support of my school, while being a full-time cover teacher.

In September 2017, I accepted the responsibility of leading science, and the following year, I started leading Year 2. As a middle leader, I had the opportunity to support and mentor ITT (Initial Teacher Training) students and Early Career Teachers. To help me grow personally and professionally, I have undergone numerous training programmes, including the ‘Stepping into Leadership’ programme,  which is run by the Department for Education for BAME teachers. I consider this as the most significant milestone of my career in the UK as it opened the opportunity for me to shadow an Ofsted inspection.

This year I am working towards becoming a Lead practitioner and achieving the NPQSL qualification. All these opportunities and more to come. Charles Dickens Primary School’s senior leadership team has played a pivotal role in my career development every step of the way...I stood on the shoulders of my leaders and colleagues to reach where I am today.

Change is not something to be afraid of. “Intelligence is the ability to ADAPT to change, and however difficult life may seem, there’s something you can do and succeed. It matters that you don’t just give up.” This is my humble advice to anyone who wants to begin teaching, or anyone who is in a similar position to where I was 15 years ago.

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