HEADTEACHER TALK with Darren Gidman headteacher at St John Bosco Arts College, Croxteth

Please outline your education/experience:
From a young age I had a passion for Maths and Science and I was really inquisitive. I always wanted to find answers to the unknown and I liked to bring that into my teaching.
I began teaching at Archbishop Beck as a teacher of Maths. I went on to have a several leadership roles there before my move to St John Bosco in September 2007 as Assistant Headteacher in charge of Maths.
St John Bosco Arts College established the teaching school in March 2013 and I was appointed Director of Teaching School in September of the same year. This was a role I very much enjoyed. It has always been my ambition to support all children no matter their background or the educational establishment they attend and this role allowed me to do that. I helped support other schools in their development and helped to establish the Initial Teacher Training at St John Bosco with our first cohort of trainees.
The teaching school continues to go from strength to strength, supporting training teachers via the Schools Direct programme and the support offered to other schools through SLE’S (Secondary Leaders in Education) and in areas of research and development. I was appointed Head teacher on January 2016 and I am very much enjoying the challenge of headship.

Tell us a little bit about your school:
St John Bosco is a very special school. We are part of the Salesian Family and as a Salesian school follow in the Charism of St John Bosco. This informs our day to day life at school supporting, caring and helping each other. The ethos at our school is palpable and our students are the centre of everything we do. Our team of staff are phenomenal, regularly going the extra mile to ensure our students have the very best opportunities.
We are ambitious for our students and want them to achieve their potential and go on to live happy and successful lives and our school life reflects that. We embrace new opportunities and encourage students to stretch and challenge themselves in the classroom and in the activities they take part in.
Pastoral care is also crucial for our students. It is vital that our students feel loved and cared for and we have a fantastic team of people in place to support the students through all aspects of their life.
A really good example of the opportunities open to our students is the recent trip to China. We have recently introduced Mandarin onto the curriculum and a group of year 9 students travelled to Wenzhou No 2 Foreign Language School as ambassadors supported by Access to China UK. We are always looking to work in partnership to develop opportunities and broaden the horizons of the young people in our care.

What are you most proud of about your school?
It has to be our students. It is a real honour to come to work every day and give my best for the students. There really is something special about St John Bosco and the children are the proof of that. They challenge us to give them the best opportunities, education and guidance. We are fortunate to have the facilities where we can come together as a school for celebrations such as awards evenings and Mass and at those points they continue to make me proud to be their Head Teacher.
There are also the individual moments when a student comes to show me a piece of their best work or I see a class working together to solve a problem that makes me very proud. They really are the very best thing about St John Bosco Arts College.

How does your school reach out and get involved in the local community?
We really value the community we are in and try to support them in our work as a school. We have excellent relationships with our local primary schools, regularly inviting them to take part in a range of activities like English and Maths sessions and we have our Primary Production coming up on 16th March with six schools involved and over 150 students from those primaries. This is part of an extensive primary Calendar we offer.
At Easter we offer a community performance of the Easter story inviting all members of the community into school to celebrate this important time of the year. We have recently opened our 3G Pitch and changing pavilion, this offers top class facilities right in the heart of the community and is already being used by lots of local clubs and really helping grass roots football in the area. We also support our Salesian sisters in their mission where possible; they are hosting a Family Fun Day at the school on Sunday 23rd April.
I am pleased to say that our Parents, Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA) is increasingly active and has organised several events from Bingo to a Literacy based trip during half term open to all members of the community. We welcome people at St John Bosco to share in our wonderful facilities and to help our community as well as the young people we serve to grow.

Tell us about St John Bosco’s plans and ambitions for the year ahead:
The most important thing for us as a school is to ensure our students are well cared for and continue to succeed.  We want them to find success in their chosen fields, develop lasting memories and become happy members of the community and wider world. We want to continue to develop partnerships within the community and with other schools, opening up opportunities not only to our students but to other young people, continuing to build on the work of St John Bosco.


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