In our first Sector Spotlight on Education we hear from Stewart McPhail who is the Head Teacher of Sanday Junior High School.
Stewart went to university and got an Honours Degree in Geology before working abroad in the oil industry. He then qualified as a teacher and spent time as a supply teacher while continuing to work in the oil industry. Stewart then moved into full time teaching and now works as Head Teacher at Sanday Junior High School.
an you describe a typical day in your role as a Head Teacher?
One of the good things about being a Head Teacher is that there is not a typical day one of the bad things about being a Head Teacher is that there is not a typical day! You come in each morning and because we are working with young people you never know what is going to happen. The variety is excellent, but the lack of predictability is a challenge.
How did you end up in this role?
My personal career is quite convoluted and particularly unique. When leaving school I considered being a PE teacher but then decided I could never teach. I went to university and got an Honours Degree in Geology. I worked in the oil industry abroad then went to teacher training college. I went back to the oil industry working abroad for five years whilst still doing supply teaching. I then went into teaching for 14 years, most of the time as a Head Teacher or Depute Head, before going back to the oil industry for two and half years. I have been back teaching for five years now.
What is the best thing about your job?
I love dealing with people. I enjoy being around the young people and seeing all their potential. I love working in the team at this school and my previous schools, particularly all the non-teaching staff.
What is the worst thing about your job?
I end up working far too long hours but I have never mastered the art of choosing what to leave and what to do.
What skills do you need to undertake your role?
I think people skills are the most important, dealing with difficult people, dealing with upset people and having a genuine passion for learning and sharing your learning and experience.
What qualifications do you have?
I got eight ‘O’ Grades in S4, five Highers in S5 (including the all-important English) then went on to do a BSc (Hons) Geology and Petroleum Geology. I then completed my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education) in Geography. I also completed my ATQ (Additional Teaching Qualification) in Biology and Science whilst being a Depute Head Teacher and Acting Head Teacher. I am qualified for many oil related jobs such as Well Control Instructor and Directional Driller. I had two passports to allow me to travel widely. I have many years of Mountain Rescue and Coastguard Cliff Rescue experience and I am qualified as an Army Cadet Force Instructor.
Would you recommend this job to young people, if so why?
Being a Head Teacher is not for everyone and quite often I wish I had stayed as a classroom teacher but once you get used to managing a school it is harder to step back. I loved working and travelling in the oil industry.
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