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David - Head of Sixth Form, Queen Elizabeth's Boys School, Barnet

david_ryan_photo.jpgWhat's your current job like?

I am responsible for a Sixth Form of nearly 300 students, virtually all of whom progress to university, with over 90% of those getting places at a Russell Group University in 2015. Attention to detail is the most important part of the job. Knowing what a university might require and knowing a student well enough to be able to speak honestly about them.

The satisfaction of the job comes, ironically, in students leaving you! But as that means that they are going to great universities it's worth every moment of the hard industry that goes into making it happen.

Tell us about your career in education so far.

I became a Head of Year in my second year of teaching and was soon given whole school responsibility for Careers and Personal, Social, Health and Economic. As a member of the leadership team I line manage departments as diverse as History, Languages and PE.

My main advice would be to watch and learn from those who lead, be that in a formal or informal way. Consider how they make the school a better place and think about how that fits with your philosophy of how a school should work.

Why did you choose this career?

I wanted to work with young people and give them opportunities like those that I had studying at Warwick. My parents were instrumental in myself being the first in our family to go to university and I am so resolutely impressed by the sacrifices that so many people make to do the same for the education of their children. And the important thing for me is knowing students, not just by name, but also knowing something about each and every one of them.

What's the best thing about teaching?

Teaching a bottom set GCSE French class who had no interest in the subject and getting them to speak in the language in every lesson by the end of the course. That takes some beating! Even the most cynical said on results day 'c'etait fantastique!’ A close second would be nearly 20 students leaving us to study at the University of Warwick one year; I was envious in a nice way!