United Teaching Blog

Declan Whitfield - Hull Collegiate School - United Teaching

Case Study: Declan Whitfield


Declan trained with United Teaching at Hull Collegiate School, where he is now Literacy Co-ordinator.

What did you do before you joined United Teaching?

Having graduated from university I sought employment and enjoyed a summer working in my local pub, being around friends I had known for years. Unfortunately, the pay was not fantastic and I struggled to pay my way. This led me into the decision to seek further employment alongside working at the pub, which was mainly evening shifts. Out of sheer inquisitiveness I got in touch with a school friend’s mum, who was a Head Teacher in a prep school. She invited me to take part in some voluntary experience at the school, one and a half days a week. This was the point that I realised I wanted to get into the education sector. The huge variation of roles and responsibilities, the fast pace, the dynamic working relationships you were able to create across so many areas, were all reasons for my pursuit of a career in teaching. From this point I demonstrated my drive, and eventually become employed as a 1:1 support for a child with ADHD, which meant I was able to leave the hospitality sector.

Why did you join United Teaching?

I was told about the United Teaching scheme by my Head, when I was a 1:1, and having taken part in 3 interviews over 3 days, felt that the experiences I had during the interview procedure at Cravenwood Primary, left me massively impressed, especially with the widespread network that United Teaching offered.

What was the highlight of your training?

The highlight of my training was definitely my mentor Karen Hirst: she taught me how much intensity and drive you needed to be a good teacher, and made me realise that it took even more to become an outstanding teacher. This realistic approach allowed me to realise that teaching was something that you could always achieve more in. A true inspiration.

Tell us about your current role.

I am currently at Hull Collegiate Prep School, the school that I completed most of training at. I always wanted to stay in Hull because of my love for the city and its unique way of being. But during my training year we went through a transition period when a new Head started, Antje Kell. The ideas that were brought in upon her arrival were exactly the kind of ideas I shared and wanted to be involved with. Since her arrival, the school and herself have shown great belief in my abilities and given me the opportunity to prove myself. So now, in my RQT year, I am the Literacy Coordinator at a very crucial time in the emergence of Hull Collegiate Prep. To be at the forefront of this, at such an early stage of my career, is a real honour.

Following your teacher training year, have you developed your career?

One of the greatest benefits of being part of United Learning is the huge network of fantastic CPD and teaching that is available. You don’t only have the expertise of staff in you school, but the expertise of those across the entire group. Even just recently, I have booked onto a course visit to Langford Primary in London. These regular opportunities really allow you to progress continuously.

What is the best part of working at your school, and United Learning?  

I am hugely impressed by the forward-thinking culture of United Learning, their willingness and focus to improve education for all children at its schools. As well as this, their clear support and care for the staff who work for them. The amount of events that bring associates across that group is brilliant, and being part of a wider group of teachers all looking to do the same thing really makes me feel like I am in a position to make a difference.

What do you want to do next? How do you want your career to develop?

I have toyed with the idea of a Headship, but I think I might be a way off. I’m currently looking to perfect my teaching and develop Literacy within Hull Collegiate Prep, the opportunity to improve on my leaderships skills will be a big focus for me over the next couple of years.

What advice would you give people considering teaching as a career?

Do it. It is busy, it does take a lot of effort and commitment. But I struggle to think of another job where you are able to take on such a vast array of responsibilities and be the best person you can be. Furthermore, there are the little moments, at the end of a lesson, or at the end of a school day, when a child bounces out grinning, and just says thank you.

Why should people choose United Teaching?

As I’ve already mentioned, the great support and vast networks of experience and understanding provides for a plethora of opportunities to develop your own pedagogy and understanding of teaching and learning.

Why should someone reading this become a teacher?

Teaching has given me a purpose to my life, and I now feel proud to speak about what I do. I feel like I am valued in my job, and that I have a huge opportunity to make an impact upon the lives of many different children. Teaching has helped me grow into a mature and driven person, and within my role I am valued, valuable and on a trajectory under my own control.


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