Eastbourne College’s Tom Lawson explains what keeps him inspired as a teacher and head

What inspired you to pursue a career in education? My English teacher at school, Poppy Anderson, inspired me to teach and I had many other great teachers as role models. I really loved PPE at Oxford and I wanted to keep learning. For the last twenty-two years I’ve been lucky enough to do just that as a teacher.

How does the sea influence life at Eastbourne College? The sea inspires us: for me the endless horizon represents our pupils’ futures. Sea air benefits mental health and pupils can enjoy water sports – from sailing to paddle boarding. There aren’t many schools where you can sea-swim, run in a national park and be back in time for hot chocolate!

What are the main challenges you see facing young people today? The economy, the future of exams, identity, climate debates – all these volatile factors create uncertainty. But I’m optimistic that the young are more nimble and can thrive despite the challenges. We oldies must not project our own anxieties onto them.

How do you spend time outside school? Outside school, my family and boxer dog Roy provide plenty of stimulus to keep me occupied. I dabbled with keeping tropical fish, but sadly they have a frustrating habit of expiring for no apparent reason.

What was your favourite subject at school? I loved history at school. Modern history, alongside politics and economics, was something I could continue with at university and into my teaching. I remember being fascinated by the character of Disraeli, and I can still name the plenipotentiaries of the Congress of Vienna.

Tell us about how Eastbourne College integrates with your local community. We founded the Coastal Schools Partnership which now includes twelve local maintained schools – this is a leading example of how we’re making a positive impact in the community. We’re delighted to share in all we do in an ongoing arrangement that makes a real difference.

What are you most looking forward to about 2022?  I’m really excited about 2022. The College’s reputation has been growing over the past five years and with the Covid fog lifting, we look forward to even greater successes for all our pupils, thanks to our uniquely balanced philosophy of education that has captured everyone’s attention.

What have you seen change in education during your career? While there has been change, perhaps too much has stayed the same. We need to rethink GCSEs, term dates that are still based on bringing in the harvest, and muddy thinking about IT. But house-based pastoral care remains a priority and will always have pride of place at Eastbourne College. 

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