Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
My name is Holly although during working hours I am called ‘Mrs Barradell’ and I am a Head of Expressive Arts Faculty in an Academy in Kent. I am also a wife, daughter and Mummy to my two young children. When I’m not teaching or chasing around after my family I can be found playing netball.
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
My teaching timetable is Drama but I have a substantial leadership and management responsibility to lead the PE, Art and Music departments as well as Drama – which is why I am a Head of Faculty. My day begins at 7.30 (well earlier with my children but my working day starts at 7.30!) where I check my emails, make my tea (essential!) and get my notes/planning together ready for my teaching day. I then attend a whole staffing briefing at 8.15 and the lessons begin at 8.35, I teach then until 11.15 and have a break and teach again from 11.35 until 12.55 and then break for lunch (although I run rehearsals and interventions so only have 20mins for lunch) and then teach again from 13.55 until 15.15 this is officially the end of the school but I then run a club, or attend senior leadership meeting or run interventions for senior students so my day ends at 5pm and then I plan ready for the next day until 5.45 and then dash to get my children! I work just over 10 hours, no teacher works 9-3!
What’s great about your job?
Every lesson is different, even though I teach the same subject. No two classes are the same and no student is the same. Even within a very specific subject students have areas of strength and weakness which I have to plan for and be creative with!
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
I don’t like it when students don’t try or prevent others from achieving their best. My role is challenging when it can switch from teacher to parent, to counsellor, to police officer to therapist within a very short space of time. Teaching isn’t just about your subject anymore as the demands on young people change and the social pressures change the role of being a teacher has to morph, especially that of a Drama teacher when you can see changes in students in different ways.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I started my career working in television and worked as a Camera Assistant for ITV so working as a Camera Assistant on the last ever Parkinson was a real treat. As a teacher it was a real honour to be nominated as Kent’s NQT of the Year by my students – that really brought a tear to my eye. In my current role the biggest highlight was seeing the value of Drama within the Academy really shift, more focused attitudes and students seeing real worth in Drama and the Arts in general.
How did you get into an arts job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
I went to my local Youth theatre from when I was 11 and I quickly took an interest in how things worked, how did the props get on that table? How did the lighting and sound work? So I became an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager) for the Senior Youth Theatre and that was my role until I went to theatre school. I was very lucky at 18 years old to get into Bristol Old Vic Theatre School to do a BA in Stage Management. Since graduating I have worked in the television and theatre industry, worked in Education and worked in Arts assessment and development for exam boards and the regulator, Ofqual.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge so far… working full time with a young child, whilst being pregnant with my now newborn daughter, whilst still writing and doing things to personally development and sustain my subject knowledge. The challenge of juggling all of that and not having any family nearby is hard. I can’t overcome it as such just yet, my children will grow up of course but I will never not work and will never not be a Mummy. I love the challenge of balancing it all and keeping all the plates spinning – it is thanks to my Stage Management training that I am able to do a lot of what I do, through the meticulous organisation!
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
The Education work changes almost daily, new acronyms, new processes, if you don’t keep up to date you are very quickly out of the loop!
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Your hair won’t be frizzy forever and although you aren’t that ‘cool’ as a student you will be a very cool teacher one day. Never stop loving Drama, it will be your career and you will succeed from this subject that seems to not be very valued – you will fight for it to be valued, don’t give up!
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
My advice for young people wanting to do any job… pick the subjects you love try not to plan too far ahead, the pathway will come when you have followed what you love. Don’t take subjects ‘so you can be a Doctor’ you might hate those subjects and get awful results and then where will you be? Do what you love and the job will develop from there.
Want more tips on working in the arts? Head on over to Creative Choices, a website filled to the brim with advice on how to get into the arts.