Kealy Leach – Year 5 Class Teacher and Upper Key Stage 2 Phase Leader, Barnehurst Federation
Kealy Leach – Year 5 Class Teacher and Upper Key Stage 2 Phase Leader
Kealy Leach is a Year 5 Class Teacher and Upper Key Stage 2 Phase Leader at The Federation of Barnehurst Schools and is a valued member of The Primary First Trust. She also previously worked at a fellow Trust school, Lessness Heath Primary School.
As an experienced school leader and modern foreign languages (MFL) teacher, Kealy inspires pupils with a love of languages and supports Early Career Teachers (ECTs) and their mentors across the school.
How did you get into teaching?
“From the age of seven, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. At the time, I thought I wanted to be maths teacher, but as I progressed through school, I fell in love with languages. At university, I studied Modern Languages and International Studies including French, Spanish, Economics, and Politics. My university undergraduate degree gave me the tools and experience to fully realise that I wanted to go into education and so once I graduated, I went on to complete my PGCE in secondary languages.”
Please tell me a bit about your experience working in education.
“Whilst I was completing my PGCE, I received very positive feedback, which helped assure me that I was on the right path. I then went into supply teaching to gain experience in the classroom. I spent most of my time supplying in secondary schools, but after one day of supply in a primary school, I was sold and didn’t leave for several years!
“From there, I became a deputy headteacher, and eventually, I became the head of a primary school in London. After being a senior leader for over 16 years, I decided I wanted a more flexible work-life balance so that I could spend more time with my son, which is when I started working at The Primary First Trust.”
Why did you decide to work at The Primary First Trust?
“After moving to Bexley with my family, I wanted a more flexible work-life balance, whilst still being able to hold a role where I could utilise my experience and do what I loved.
“I first joined Lessness Heath, where I worked as a Year 5 teacher and mentored newly qualified teachers (NQTs). I then moved over to The Federation of Barnehurst Schools and continued to teach in upper Key Stage 2. I have a real passion for coaching, and I now really enjoy supporting mentors of our ECTs to help teachers at the beginning of their careers.”
Can you explain a little bit about being a coach?
“As an ECT Induction Tutor, I support our mentors in looking after our ECTs in their first two years of teaching at Barnehurst. It is quite a hands-on role, I go into their classroom with the mentors whilst the ECTs are teaching, in order to observe how they teach. This allows me to fully understand how they work, and then I can adapt how I can coach the mentor and the ECT and what tips they might need.
“By being able to provide bespoke guidance, you can be really effective as a coach. You can really see the impact you have on the teacher you are mentoring, which is an incredible feeling. You know you are making a difference.”
How does The Primary First support you, mentors, and ECTs?
“The Primary First Trust supports our school by working with providers to deliver high-quality training. We work with UCL and The Ambition Institute, who provide vital, structured training.
“Training of new teachers has come such a long way. It is now really collaborative and has a strong focus on continuous learning. It is also much more tailored than it used to be, with schools having the ability to choose their own training providers. This more bespoke approach means that training reflects the needs of the new teachers, which are in turn a reflection of the pupils they teach. I believe this way of training is a more supportive approach and is critical for teachers at the beginning of their careers.”
What have been your highlights working at The Primary First Trust?
“For me, being able to work face-to-face with my colleagues has been a pleasure. I think during the pandemic, I truly appreciated the team spirit that comes with working in a school. Being able to interact with the pupils every day and have an ongoing dialogue with them helps you really see how much of an impact you are making.”
What advice would you give to an ECT?
“Ask questions! If you don’t know the answer to something, the best thing to do is to ask a question. You should also carry a notebook with you to write down your questions, and the answers, to help you retain the information. Doing this will help you check in with your mentor or partner teacher, and over time, by asking a lot of questions, your knowledge will increase, and your questions will be fewer!”