We find out a little bit more about Mr Nick Waite, Head of Beechwood Sacred Heart School in Tunbridge Wells
What was your first ever job?
My first paid job was at a cling film factory when I was a student at Bristol University. It was noisy and repetitive but you had to respond quickly if there was a snag. You also had to be careful to avoid sparks that would fly from the build up of static electricity, so my physics degree came in handy!
Why did you choose a career in teaching?
I enjoyed volunteering at a children’s home as part of my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and as someone who enjoyed my subject and found I could relate well to children, a teaching career appealed to me. I enjoyed being at school as a child, and just as I expected, the opportunity to help pupils achieve their goals has turned out to be very rewarding.
How long have you been the headteacher at your school?
This is my second headship and I joined Beechwood Sacred Heart School in September 2020. It has been unusual joining the school with restrictions on large gatherings, so without assemblies and parent meetings I have been using video calls to meet everyone, and feel more like a TV character than a head teacher at the moment.
What do you think makes Beechwood Sacred Heart special?
Beechwood has a very caring and nurturing ethos. Its exceptional pastoral care stems from its foundation, and since each pupil is known and encouraged to make the most of their talents, there is a long history of strong personal development and good academic achievement.
How do you continue to inspire teachers and pupils to excel across all areas of the school?
I think the key is to create an atmosphere where individuals are encouraged to try new things, to take risks, and not be afraid to learn from mistakes. I would quote Albert Einstein who said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” We expect high standards of each other and ourselves, and applaud those who try something new rather than settle for how things have always been done.
Have your own school days influenced the way you lead your school today?
I was fortunate to go to Nottingham High School and enjoyed a wide range of opportunities, including sport, music and drama. However, I think it is my experience of working in a range of different schools – state and independent, single sex and co-ed, international and overseas – that has had the greatest influence. Ultimately, whenever I am faced with a dilemma or a difficult decision, I will always return to the question of what is best for the pupils, and the answer then becomes clear.
What’s been your proudest achievement so far?
I joined my last school as head after it had failed its previous inspection but through the hard work and dedication of the staff and its pupils, we achieved the highest grades from the inspectors only four years later. It was most pleasing that the school approached the inspection with such confidence – I was returning from a marketing trip overseas, oblivious to the inspection until I listened to very calm voicemail messages from each of my SLT while I was waiting in the luggage hall at Heathrow!
If you could teach anyone – either present day or from history – who would you choose?
I would love to learn from Marie Curie and her husband about their brilliant research methods and analyses, which led to the isolation of polonium and radium. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person to win two. I would like to think I could teach her about our current knowledge of the dangers of radiation, and prolong her life so she could continue her work and perhaps make even more discoveries to benefit the world of science.
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