Mat Galvin is assistant principal for Teaching and Learning at Firth Park Academy in Sheffield, a 'good' school in a challenging area. Having worked in inner city schools for 17 years, Mat has worked regionally and nationally on both Science teaching and Outdoor education. He is part of the MyScience alumni and hosts the regional Triple Science network. Outside of work, Mat splits his time between his young family and Sheffield Tigers RUFC.
1. Tell us about how you got into teaching.
To be honest, it’s the vocation I always wanted to follow. I loved teaching and learning right from being a leader at my local church youth group as a teenager. After completing my degree and PGCE, I went straight into the classroom and have never looked back. I’ve met other fantastic teachers who have joined teaching after several career changes so there are plenty of routes in! I think the key to remaining fired up is to evolve your role in different schools. It will keep you fresh and motivated. Over the years I’ve been an assistant head of year, outdoor education and expedition coordinator, departmental and faculty leader, and now senior leader. All have had their unique rewards and challenges.
We all know the importance of reading for our students’ futures and life chances. As such, we recently reviewed our literacy policy at Firth Park Academy, a Sheffield inner-city comprehensive rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted. Our charismatic principal, Dean Jones, wanted our new system to be engaging, relevant and simple to use. This article looks at the process and the next steps, as we look to continually improve our provision.
Step 1: Build a team
Having been a player of the round ball for all my life (I can thoroughly commend to you the model of Sheffield’s Christian Fair Play League as a model of fantastic football and sportsmanship), I decided in the Autumn years of my competitive sporting career to move to rugby. Prior to this, I’d only played rugby in games lessons when 15, so I expected and received a steep learning curve. Two years later and thoroughly enjoying myself at Sheffield Tigers RUFC I thought, with the rugby World Cup taking place, it would be a great chance to link the very best of rugby with values and ideas for school improvement.
As a commentator recently said on Radio 4, “never let a good crisis go to waste!” With change being the only constant in education, I took the relative peace of a moonlit dog walk in Sheffield’s beautiful Meersbrook Park (which featured in X+Y and Four Lions!) to contemplate the challenges and opportunities available to Science teachers and leaders over the coming years.