February 27th 2024
October 11th 2023
Teacher Spotlight: Q&A with Cath Day
What is your name and role in the school? Cath Day, Head of Futures
How long have you been teaching for? Nearly 30 years, although I have taken time out to do an MA at RADA and I worked for LAMDA for several years as a Project Manager writing a new speaking and listening skills qualification for schools (Level 2)
How did you know teaching was the profession for you? Although (or perhaps because!) I come from a family of teachers, a career in education wasn’t initially on my radar. At the age of 16, I wanted to study Medicine or go to Drama school. Teaching just seemed to be something I was good at and I love the fact that no day is ever the same.
Where did you study and what did you study? - Royal Holloway College (University of London) – Music; Durham – PGCE; Birmingham School of Speech and Drama: Postgraduate Diploma in acting; RADA – MA Text in Performance
What sets our focus on careers & futures apart from other schools? It’s not just the range of opportunities available – which is impressive – but rather the quality of what’s on offer and the freedom we give students to chart their own course (with gentle guidance when needed). Not to mention my extensive list of contacts and ability to network! Blackheath High is a very forward-thinking school and I think the Futures Department is at the heart of this.
What is the biggest challenge facing girls' futures? Probably what it’s always been: balancing family life with having a career. That will resonate with any working mum, I’m sure. That, plus a lack of assertiveness in the workplace. As women, we’ve got to get better at negotiating the Ts and Cs, particularly when it comes to pay increases. It would be great to have more women in positions of power. As Robin Williams said, ‘There would never be any wars with a female President, just every 28 days some intense negotiations’!
How do we support our Neurodivergent students with their future pathways? 1-1 careers sessions really help support students with particular needs, as does the GDST Rungway platform, where sixth formers across the Trust can connect 1:1 with a GDST Alumna who works in their chosen career field and can offer tailored advice. Students also find the Unifrog platform a great support as they can research careers, options and opportunities such as virtual work experience under their own steam.
What inspires you/ gets you out of bed in the morning? I love what I do. There’s always an interesting conversation waiting for me in school. Last week, a student told me very seriously that they had ‘held the school brain’! Who knew?!
Who is your role model and why? They tend to vary depending on who is in my orbit. At the moment, I’m inspired by Richard Feynman: theoretical physicist, bongo player and all-round good egg. Why? Because of his fearsome intellect, integrity and twinkly charisma. The YouTube clip of him explaining on TV why the space shuttle Challenger exploded is a brilliant of example of how to make the complex intelligible.
Are you working on any key projects outside of school? I’m hoping to write the final part of my Nigel Farage musical trilogy: UKIP! The Musical (Brexit at Tiffany’s was the second instalment). It’s been challenging because politics seems to have moved beyond satire! Recognising the value of and need for communication skills training, I also run a communication skills coaching company which works with UK and international clients, particularly within the education sector to support students with their confidence and communication skills. I have worked with students in schools as far flung as Bermuda via Zoom and I know we made a real difference to them.
What is your most impressive or unusual achievement in your career or life? Probably achieving ‘sold-out’ status at the Edinburgh Fringe with UKIP! The Musical and winning The Stage award for best ensemble with that production.