Meet our People: Genevieve Bent, Head of Science at Harris Invictus Academy Croydon
"I decided to go into teaching after spending time in a school, during my final undergraduate year."
I took part in the Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme, which meant that for my final year project, I developed a brand new set of resources for science practical work in the school. I got to develop relationships with students, liaise with teachers and develop my own understanding of what teaching is about. I loved it and decided to apply for the PGCE the following year.
I have worked at Harris since landing my first role as NQT at Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich four years ago, where I experienced a hugely supportive NQT programme that allowed me to develop as a teacher. I then moved to Harris Invictus Academy Croydon, looking for a new set of challenges. In these four years, I have been promoted first to Head of Chemistry and then to Head of Science; if you want to progress, there are few places better.
There are so many special things about Harris Invictus as a place to work – not least of which our brand new, multi-million pound building opening in September! We were the Federation’s first secondary free school to be judged ‘Outstanding’, which was only possible because of our amazing staff and students.
There is a real community feel, where students show massive appreciation in even simple things such as Christmas gifts or Father’s Day cards. Even parents occasionally pop in with tubs of biscuits or chocolates as tokens of appreciation.
Staff work tirelessly to provide a great foundation for students and the community, from extra voluntary duties, to additional evenings for parents to students, through to the amazing range of extra-curricular activities we run for the students.
Harris Invictus is a fantastic example of a diverse cohort of students being taught and led by a diverse group of teaching professionals. We come from various backgrounds, faiths and nationalities, but we all have certain things in common: a dedication to the students we serve, an immense work ethic and the commitment to be the best we can be and want the best for our students. Anyone who has shares traits in common will do well at Invictus.
I have been at Harris for as long as my working career, but compared to my PGCE placement schools, Harris has provided me with a secure and stable foundation to progress in teaching. The federation policies along with the autonomy each academy maintains has meant there have been multiple paths to seek support when needed. There are always opportunities to meet, network and gain expertise from other professionals, such as at the annual Federation-wide CPD event, Teach Meets organised by Harris academies – or even the Federation sports days, where everyone participates in some way!
The strong network across academies means that there is also lots of support and expertise within your subject specialism as well as in general areas such as teaching and learning. I have had support from the wonderful team of Science consultants at Harris and have had opportunities to create and modify the Federation science curriculum, a CPD opportunity in itself. Through this, I have facilitated workshops for science teachers across the federation, as part of subject-specific CPD.
A lot of the opportunities – and the wonderful people I have met as a result – probably wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t working for Harris. I have had fantastic support from my SLT, who have encouraged me to take part in, the first of its kind, Diverse Leadership Programme, a DfE funded programme, led by a partnership between Harris Federation and GLF Schools. I am a part of both WomenEd and BAMEed – grassroots movements which seek to promote equality and diversity in education. I have recently facilitated a session and spoken at WomenEd events across the country.
I have also taken part in the 2017 NCTL campaign for Get Into Teaching, alongside seven other UK teachers. We did a shoot for TV, radio and press, and since then, my face has popped up in everything from the TV to the Times, as well hearing my voice on the radio!
Watch the Get Into Teaching video, featuring Genevieve, now: