Career Journey – Chrissi Harris

Name: Chrissi Harris

Current Position: Assistant Head and EYFS Leader/Reception Teacher at Coleham Primary School, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead, Pupil Premium Lead, Science Lead

Previous Positions: Early Years Teaching Assistant, 1:1 SEN Teaching Assistant, Nursery Manager.

What is your current role, and what does it involve?

As a member of staff at Coleham Primary School I have many roles, like many in Education I wear many hats! As an Assistant Head my main role is to work alongside the Headteacher and Deputy in all aspects of leadership and management and to take responsibility for managing and developing teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and enrichment throughout the school, with a specific area of responsibility linked to Pupil Premium.

As an EYFS Leader my role is to lead a team of teaching staff, including Teaching Assistants to provide high quality education for Reception aged Pupils. This involves leading on the development of an innovative, creative curriculum that meets the requirements of Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, whilst prioritising the individual needs of all Reception pupils. As EYFS Leader it is important for me to be an excellent role model to my team, delivering Quality First Teaching that is ambitious, striving for excellence and being forward thinking in terms of educational developments that could impact the school.

In addition to these roles I also take on the responsibility of leading Science and working alongside all members of the school’s senior leadership team supporting safeguarding as a Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead.

What has been your journey from your first role within the education sector, to your current role?

As an 18 year old straight out of college I entered the field of education working in a local Nursery working as an Early Years practitioner, after 3 months I was fortunate to be promoted to the Nursery Manager leading a team of staff in delivering high quality early years education for 2-4 year olds. I had a interest in Early Language and was keen to improve my own professional development in this area. I worked on current leading projects promoted by government known then as Every Child a Talker.

Soon after I was offered a role in another Nursery, again as a Nursery Manager, but with further opportunities to grow as a professional. It was in this role that I began my further qualifications in education, firstly gaining Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), then a Foundation Degree in Early Years, followed by a BA Hons Degree which I gained with First Class Honours.

Some months later, I was approached by a local Primary School who offered me a position as an Early Years Teaching Assistant. In this role I initially began supporting a child with SEN, but was asked to use my experience to support and lead the class when teacher cover was needed. I had a really supportive Head teacher at the time, who offered lots of encouragement and helped me see the potential I had to further my career prospects further “Why aren’t you training to be a teacher” she would say daily. So I soon after took the jump, and began my PGCE qualification through school direct.

My first teaching job was here at Coleham, and I sometimes I wish I had done all of this sooner. However, I do feel that things often happen for a reason and strongly believe that all the experience I have had in Early Years Education has helped me secure a really strong understanding of child development which is essential in my role.

I feel really fortunate for the opportunities I have had in education and continue that love of learning even now. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is really important to me, I’m a really reflective Educational Professional and believe there truly is always more to learn.

What do you most enjoy about your job in school?

What I love about my role is hard to summarise as every day is different. Making a difference to the lives of so many children and families is the most rewarding part, and I initially felt it was only in the classroom that I could achieve this. Whereas, now working as an Assistant Head I recognise the difference I am able to make as part of the Wider School community. Working with families and children and the community that supports Coleham is what makes my job truly special. At Coleham I am fortunate to work with a team of staff that share the vision for our pupils ‘For Every Child an Excellent Education’. Working with so many staff that are genuinely committed to improving every child’s life chances, education and well-being makes the hard work truly worth it.

What does it mean to be part of The 3 – 18 Education Trust?

At Coleham School, being part of the trust means that we are able to share the vision we have for our pupils beyond our school, because we know that The 3 – 18 Education Trust shares a similar ethos and values for all it’s schools, emphasising values such as ‘Compassion’ and ‘Resillience’.

As a part of the trust I feel supported, and recognise there is always someone I can go to for support, The Trust Consultancy role has been a fundamental part of that support on offer from the trust.

In addition to this, the opportunities for collaborative working are crucial to my role as a Leader, whether this be for tasks such as moderation or simply someone else to consult with and share ideas.

There are many other benefits to be part of the trust, including the Trust Conferences which allow all the schools an opportunity to get together and feel that sense of community. For more information, I really would explore the website to find out more.