Trying to keep my word
My name is Kevin Carson. I am an English teacher and the headteacher at RMS for Girls, an independent girls’ school in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. I have long thought about writing a weekly account of my life as a headteacher. Why? I think I just want an excuse to write and reflect, to turn my thoughts back and throw light on my week and working life. I would like to hear the shifting accents, rhythms, and syncopation of a school year from a headteacher’s perspective.
I have tried this before and soon failed. After a couple of weeks, the pace of the term is relentless and a voice of guilt yells, “There is no time for this self-indulgent nonsense – do your job!”. And because there is always too much to do, so much not yet done, other tasks take priority. But I’m told that in the regular writing and reflecting, in the bending back and meditating, there will be learning. And I’m nothing if not a learner. So let’s give it a go.
RMS is a school with an exceptional ethos. It is a strong community, and I am both fortunate and privileged to be the headteacher here. In an area full of grammar schools, 11+ tutoring, and highly selective independent schools, RMS is different. RMS is the antithesis of an exam factory, it is a school that has long valued nurturing each individual, finding every pupil’s talents, and ensuring every pupil thrives on their own unique journey
Before living in the Shires and going soft, I grew up in a place called Huyton. Huyton is in the borough of Knowsley, just outside Liverpool. If you google “Knowsley” and “Education” you will be told that “Knowsley is at the top and the bottom of every British economic and social league table whose top or bottom you would be anxious to avoid” (The Guardian). While they exist light years from one another, Huyton is like RMS in having a very strong sense of place. I have a strong sense of Huyton being a part of me, and RMS is getting that way too. Growing up in Huyton formed my sense of myself and the world as I know it.
I love learning, every single thing about it: the curiosity, the struggle, the process, the outcome. Education changed my life. I am fortunate to have been taught by inspirational teachers at every age. They helped me to progress through a lovely local primary, a comprehensive that might euphemistically be called challenging, and a very special sixth-form college that nurtured creativity. Each of those schools went out of their way to let me be me and grow. I enjoyed wonderful lecturers and tutors throughout a degree in English Literature at Liverpool University, an M.Phil in Renaissance Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, and my teacher training degree at Warwick University. I still love learning. I’m called a teacher and there is hopefully some of that going on, but I’m definitely also somebody who is learning with my students.