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Becoming Subject Leader At 23

Using what they have learnt in the research methods topic, Farhana’s sociology pupils interview her about her experiences of being a new and young subject leader. 

Farhana Aktar Class

How long have you been teaching for? 

– I am now entering my 4th year of teaching. I have only just passed the new 2 year ECT framework in July 2023 but was teaching unqualified for a year in 2020. 

What subject do you teach? 

– I trained in RE so that is my main subject but I also teach Sociology as that is what my degree is in. 

What subject are you a head of department for? 

– Sociology – but in our school it is a very nice small department that has only recently started growing. 

How long have you been a subject leader for? 

– Not long! I started the post in my 2nd ECT year as acting subject leader (January 2023). It was offered to me just before I turned 24. Now I am in a permanent role as I felt it did well for my professional development. How does it feel being a subject leader at this age? 

– It was hard at first because I was still an ECT and it happened in the middle of the year. I was also mentoring a PGCE pupil at the same time and had 3 RE examination groups. The cherry on the cake was that I did not teach any Sociology last year at all but was the subject leader. At that point, I had to revamp our curriculum without actually having any Sociology classes to myself. It was sweet though, because I remember some of my Year 10 pupils clapping for me when they found out I got the job. 

How do you balance teaching two different subjects and leading one? – Although Sociology and RE are different, they are also very similar so that helps. I put my faith at the centre of everything I do which boosts my productivity levels. I try to get in early and leave early most days. The only thing I do outside of school if needed is marking but everything else like department responsibilities is done during non-contact hours. 

Do you want to teach Sociology full-time? 

– No, never! I really love RE and I feel like even with subject leadership I could never let RE go. Both subjects complement each other. 

What advice would you give to other young subject leaders? 

– Be a learner! You have a wealth of expertise to help you so make sure you value them and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, pupil voice is important. When introducing new resources in your subject, ask the pupils for feedback too.

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The author

Farhana has been blogging for Nexus Education since her undergraduate studies. She is an avid champion for Religious Education, Philosophy, Debate and Sociology. Since graduating from the LSE, Farhana completed her teacher training and is now a subject leader in a local secondary school.

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