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September 20th 2017

60 seconds with Ms A Chandler, Head of English Faculty

Can you tell us about your role at Blackheath High?
I am the Head of English Faculty and oversee the teaching of English across the Senior school and Sixth Form - Years 7-13. 

This is my fourth year and I am very lucky to work with such an inspirational and dedicated team of English teachers. It is a great pleasure to work with the talented, curious and engaging students of Blackheath. Working with such fantastic young people is the best bit of this job; I consider myself very lucky.  

What did you do before you joined us?
I grew up in rural Somerset with my parents and two sisters. I went to Queens’ College, Cambridge for my first Degree – in English Literature. I later worked at Sky TV as an Editorial Assistant at Sky Sports before leaving to live in Mexico for six months where I taught in a bilingual school - that was my first experience of teaching. I did my MA at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London before training as an English teacher. Before coming here, I worked in a grammar school and a local independent school.

I come from a family of teachers, and, typically, when I was younger, teaching was the last thing I could imagine myself doing. However, as soon as I tried it, I knew it was the perfect career for me.

Have you always had a passion for English?
Yes, I am a passionate reader and have always enjoyed drama and theatre productions. I love a huge range of literature, but I am proudly a huge fan of Shakespeare, and have an unwavering energy for the words of the Bard.

It is a privilege to be able to spend hours each day discussing the works and the words, of great writers. Couple brilliant literature with the enquiring minds of young people, and it’s an exciting combination. 

What is unique about Blackheath High?
I think it is the special blend of being both aspirational and nurturing. Blackheath High has succeeded in combining a culture of warmth and community with challenge and ambition. The teaching is excellent, pastoral care is superb, and the girls are given the best opportunities possible. I have two daughters at Junior School and they couldn’t be happier.

Another unique thing about Blackheath High is the importance placed on equality and challenging negative stereotypes. We have a vibrant Feminist Society and this is a community in which we have healthy discussions about equality and diversity. Students at Blackheath High are articulate and engaged; they do very well in exams, but they are also ready to ask difficult questions and to stand up for what they believe in. 

What do you like most about your job?
I really love working with young people and teaching literature. Working with teenagers is never, ever boring. I am inspired by my students and my wonderful colleagues. I also love to see students develop their passion for learning both within and beyond the classroom, be it through performing in our yearly ‘Poetry By Heart’ or Greenman Public Speaking competitions, participating in a workshop performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, sharing original compositions in Creative Society, or discussing a great modern novel in Book Club. Every day my students make me think, they make me laugh, and they make me proud.

What makes working here at Blackheath High so rewarding and enjoyable?
The opportunity to get to know students so well. It is an incredibly friendly school, and class sizes are small. Our students are motivated, ambitious and have exciting aspirations. The school celebrates individuality and that is something very special here.

Whilst our exam results have been excellent, and achieving great results is a key part of our work, we are committed to education on a much deeper level. We encourage our students to explore ideas and develop skills that extend far beyond the syllabus or exam course. I believe that our students leave us as independent, curious and confident young women. 

You are obviously very busy working inside school, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending time with my family and making the most of living in London, from visiting the National Gallery or the Globe Theatre, to scooting as a family in Greenwich Park. 

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