Laura Rodgers is the Deputy Head Academic here at Glendower, overseeing the curriculum delivery, and the assessment processes. A large part of this is preparing the girls for senior schools, and the whole 11+ transfer process. Laura shares an office with Kemi, the Deputy Head Pastoral, to ensure good coordination between the academic and pastoral aspects of the school. The leadership team all work incredibly well together and the bond between them goes beyond the professional, to be able to support each other on all levels.
Very few teachers end up joining the career by accident, but Laura actually never intended to go into teaching and started her journey actually in law. During her time at university, she received a legal placement in East Africa, and found herself working with young people there teaching them about human rights and so on, this being the first time she had really worked with children. After graduating, Laura took a gap year in Gambia where she was the team leader of a group of university students who were teaching in various schools, and then moved to London and undertook a PGCE. Laura moved up from class teaching in primary schools to Head of Year 6, heavily involved in the 11+ process before joining Glendower. She admits that despite getting the interview, she wasn’t totally expecting to get the job, but was delighted to get it and join the leadership team. She feels passionately about girls education and creating opportunities that will set girls up for the rest of their lives.
There is no typical day for the Deputy Head Academic, but Laura really thrives on the time that she still spends in the classroom helping children with their 11+ reasoning and interview prep, alongside small group maths sessions and current affairs teaching. Most days there are lots of meeting with parents, staff and children to make sure that everyone is on track and providing support where needed, making sure that everyone has what they need to do their job well. “Staff wellbeing is one of the highest priorities in my role and it is crucial that we try to get it right.” Laura is also working alongside the IT Development Team on upgrading and improving the technology side of the school, and is keeping herself well informed on how things are evolving in the area of AI and automation, and how Glendower can ensure the girls get the best possible learning in a totally new area for us all. Watch this space for more updates on how we are all planning to implement all this.
Laura is also working on linking departments together, so that subjects are not just taught in silos, but showing the connections between different areas of learning. The deepest satisfaction for Laura is hearing a teacher suggest an idea, and then seeing them empowered and enthused to put it into action. We are lucky to have such an amazing team at Glendower.
With the approaching 11+ exam for our girls, Laura is keen to emphasise that at Glendower, the focus is not solely on the final outcome; rather, it revolves around cherishing the entire process as a positive experience. The goal is to emerge from this journey with a profound sense of satisfaction, knowing that you have given it your all and have every reason to be proud of your efforts. The schools you get into and the scholarships you receive may be impressive, but the essential skills you develop during this process are even more remarkable. These skills encompass self-reliance in learning, self-motivation, the ability to learn from one’s mistakes, and the aptitude for creative thinking when faced with elusive answers.
Despite the undeniable pressures and bustling nature of this high-stakes examination, it is essential to maintain a balanced perspective. The essence of the 11+ exam lies in discovering the right school – a place that not only opens doors but also embraces forward-thinking educational principles and fosters a thriving sense of community and belonging.
Laura deeply feels the school’s commitment to preparing young girls for the diverse array of examinations they might encounter. The adaptability required to transition from one style of exam to another, depending on the senior school’s requirements, is truly impressive with our young ladies. However, our girls consistently rise to the challenge and perform exceptionally well. “This success is a testament to their resilience, and it reflects the dedication of our teachers, who work tirelessly to ensure that each student is well-equipped with the necessary exam techniques, facilitating a comfortable and familiar exam experience.”
Laura wants those considering a career in teaching to look at it with positive eyes – it often gets bad press or spoken of as a “tough job”, but it is immensely rewarding and fulfilling for the right people and is definitely a place where good people can make a real, lasting difference.