United Teaching Blog

Career Progression: Teaching to Leadership


Teaching can present many opportunities both in and out of the classroom, including routes into leadership.

Allistair Williamson, Head of Guildford Junior School, shared his career progression journey and experience of working in United Learning schools.

Allistair joined Surbiton High School in 2017 as a PE teacher. He taught there for a year before progressing to Deputy Head, eventually moving to take on the role of Head at Guildford Junior School in 2021.

Recalling his early days with the United Learning Group, Allistair said:

“Within the first few months of joining United Learning I went on a Leadership Residential, which was a great opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues across the Group from academies, independent schools, primary and secondary schools. I would say it is probably the best CPD retreat I’ve been on.”

Talking about the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) offering at United Learning, Allistair mentioned: “CPD opportunities are increasing, and this is only to the betterment of the schools and people we are leading. I have enjoyed attending Cluster meetings, which are purposeful for people in positions of responsibility to share best practice.”

When asked what he enjoys most in his role, Allistair said: “Children get one shot at education, and I get to be involved with that. Every day I have the opportunity to see children thrive and flourish, learn new things for the first time, grapple with challenges and support them through them, and be able to see a real impact in people’s lives, both children and adults."

Making a difference in children’s lives is at the core of our ethos at United Teaching and United Learning, but that isn’t all that makes us stand out.

On what makes United Learning a great place to work, Allistair said: “It cares about its people, making sure staff have the resources available to them to get the best out of the children they teach. There are plenty of opportunities for people to connect, with the ability to draw from a central space, rather than in a silo at a single school – allowing you to draw from a wealth of experience and apply it to your own setting.”

Reflecting on his career so far, Allistair said: “I’ve been lucky to be able to say that I’ve taught in two different countries, teaching pupils from ages 4-18, and have been in curriculum-focused and pastoral-focused roles, as well as middle and senior leadership. This has given me the opportunity to see education at all levels, see children in a huge range of settings, and have an impact in different ways.”

One of Allistair’s career highlights is becoming a Head. He said: “It was a big career aspiration of mine that I thought would come a lot later in life than it did.”

Allistair offered a piece of advice to aspiring teachers and leaders, saying: “Listen more than you speak, ask lots of questions and make sure you walk before you run. There are so many opportunities out there, make sure you’re confident before you go for them, and once you do get one – take it with both hands.”

United Teaching offers more than teaching; we provide a clear pathway to leadership roles and enable rapid progression. 

Contact us to find out more about what teaching can offer you.

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