Dr Jonty Clark, OBE, Executive Head Teacher
I engaged in distance learning with the University of Sheffield School of Education from 1998 – 2004 where I completed an MEd in Special and Inclusive Education and an EdD. I’m glad I moved from one degree to the other without taking a break as I’m not sure I would have managed to get studying again if I’d taken a ‘gap year’ aged 38! The Masters degree was exceptionally challenging as my career then, as now, was working in special schools.
I’d drive to Sheffield for a weekend every term and do battle (nearly literally) with a group of exceptional academics who kept telling me that all children should be educated in a mainstream setting irrespective of any additional needs they might have.
Having to articulate and contextualise in spoken and written language my views on difference, disadvantage and education (whilst keeping calm) was a formative experience. I remember sitting in the bar one evening with Professor Wilfred Carr talking about his amazing book ‘Becoming Critical’ and thinking… ‘this is what’s happening to me’. In spite of our differing views on special education, the inclusive education team helped me develop a much broader and reflective view about the children and families I work with and the other stakeholders I engage with through my work.
Derick Armstrong’s book, ‘Power and Partnership in Education’ and the sessions he taught around this publication has always informed the way I think about family engagement work carried out by the organisations I lead.
Since studying at Sheffield I have led two inner London schools designated for pupils identified as having Social, Emotional and Mental Health Issues (SEMH) from being judged to be failing to securing Ofsted judgements of ‘Outstanding’.
Six years ago I moved to work in Croydon and became Headteacher of a small, dispirited, failing SEMH school, the Beckmead Family of Schools is now the largest special school in the country. On May 5th this year I was invited to Buckingham Palace and was awarded an OBE for my ‘Services to Disabled Children and Children with Special Educational Needs’.
For me the honour represented the amazing efforts and achievements of the wonderful children and exceptional colleagues I have worked with over the years.
Find a PhD
Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.