Five Minutes with Ailsa Harris, Head Of Science

What inspires you as a teacher?

I started my teaching in a beautiful school called Bohunt in Liphook near Hampshire for five years, I was a newly qualified teacher and had the most wonderful start to my teaching career. I then moved to be a Second in Department in a very inner city mixed comprehensive in Croydon (9.5 miles from London), this was very different and where I learnt my behaviour management skills. I stayed at Coulsdon for five years and then moved to Teddington School. Again, a large mixed comprehensive school (11-18 years), where I then secured a Curriculum Leader of Science position and stayed there for 13 ½ years. Teddington was a little different to Coulsdon, a little more leafy, close to Hampton Court and a beautiful area again 12 miles from London. I loved it there but I was ready for a change and here I am at Santa Maria College and enjoying it very much.

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in education over the years?

Change in the UK is par for the course and this is one of the reasons for my big move to Australia. We have seen numerous changes within the education system in the UK, National Curriculum and teaching programs. These changes were steamrollered and we were not given enough time to implement properly, which then led to increased stress levels, many of my colleagues suffered. I felt the students were disadvantaged because not enough exam support or resources were available. I was in a state government school and funding was also being affected, which had a detrimental effect, class sizes increased. Performance related pay was introduced and with the ongoing OFSTED inspection regime and Academy trusts taking over local authority government schools, I was ready for a change.

What is something not many people know about you?

I took dancing lessons with Catherine Zeta Jones when I was little and support Wales in the rugby!

What is your favourite area of science?

I teach Human Biology but I am very interested in sustainability and protecting the environment, also educating the girls in this area so they can hopefully make a difference in the future.

How do you relax?

Bike riding, I am forever in awe when I see the Indian Ocean on my bike with my family. I love making things, being creative and art projects. I absolutely love skiing too and am desperate to get back into this when we are settled and ski in places like Japan, New Zealand and ski resorts in Australia. I am in awe of the natural environment, so have thoroughly enjoyed venturing to the beautiful parts of WA and hoping to explore more.

What is your favourite quote?

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way. Enjoy every minute and take every opportunity that comes your way, it may never arise again.

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