Return to blog

Getting to know you: Brendan Hesketh, headteacher

A blog post image

 At The Key, we’re always keen to hear from our members about the highs and lows of their day-to-day role. This week we spoke to Brendan Hesketh, headteacher at Fairfield High School for Girls, about fieldwork, exam reform and why Man City can’t win without Yaya Toure.

What makes a great teacher?

A good teacher performs well, but a great teacher inspires other people to perform better. Sometimes people raise their game because they know they have other great people in their team. It’s like Man City at the moment – they can’t win seem to win without Yaya Toure.

What’s the most memorable thing a pupil has ever said to you?

Once, when I was an assistant head, we took on a permanently excluded pupil from another school. He was in my GCSE geography class, and I mentored him and managed to re-integrate him into school. A few years later he got in touch to say he’d qualified as a geography teacher himself, because I’d inspired him to change. That was a real reminder of the difference we can make.

Who do you think is a good role model for young people today?

The best role models I know of are my staff. They model every expectation I could possibly want for the girls in my school and more. We recently achieved flagship status for the Inclusion Quality Mark, and one of the assessors said there’s no limit to how far my staff will go to get the kids everything they need.

What would you be if you weren’t a teacher?

Once I’d accepted I wouldn’t be scoring a hat-trick in the FA cup final, I thought I might become a writer or a journalist. I like communicating with people and finding things out.

What do you wish you'd known before becoming a teacher?

I wish someone had warned me about how quickly things change in schools for what often seem to be political reasons. It must be incredibly confusing for teachers and parents. For example, soon we'll have some kids getting grades for their GCSEs and others getting numbers, and it’ll be hard for employers to compare them.

How are you preparing for the exam reforms?

We’ve adapted to the linear approach and introduced more examination-style testing. However, this doesn't mean we're going back to traditional, old-fashioned ways of teaching. We see it as an opportunity to review our teaching and make sure it’s as engaging and memorable as possible.

What was the last article you read from The Key?

The last one I read was about the new headteachers’ standards.

Further reading to help

If you're a member of The Key for School Leaders, you can read our article on the GCSE reforms here. We also have an article about the Inclusion Quality Mark, which you can find here.

Sign up for our news briefing

The Key's weekly education sector round-up, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Get weekly news briefing