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Profile picture of Michelle Blanchard MBE.

Headteacher, Beckfoot Allerton Primary and Nursery

The teachers that really stood out to me were the ones that were firm but fair and could really bring alive what I had previously thought were boring topics.

Wanting to be a teacher

From a small age I dreamt of being either a teacher or a librarian. When I was doing my A-levels I was looking at engineering and forensics courses but I also undertook some teaching experience and I absolutely loved it.

I was fortunate to have inspiring teachers at both my primary and secondary schools. The teachers that really stood out to me were the ones that were firm but fair and could really bring alive what I had previously thought were boring topics.

Michelle Blanchard in classroom.

Why I chose to attend Leeds Trinity and my favourite memories

I really liked the size of the University on campus and with it being so close to the city of Leeds. I loved living on campus during my first year, in Rievaulx and really enjoyed the nightlife. I played hockey socially and I also worked nearby in the Old Kings Arms pub, in Horsforth.

Valuable placements and leaving University with a new skill set

I was very fortunate to gain experience at a Primary School where the inspirational Duncan Jacques CBE was the Headteacher. He was a mentor to me and was a brilliant role model for anyone looking to become a teacher. I also had a placement at Weetwood Primary School, this was a very different experience but also a very valuable one.

The lessons and placements enabled me to leave University as a more mature individual and taught me so much about professionalism. The course taught me every subject you needed to be a Primary Teacher, and this gave me so much confidence.

My career since graduating

I started my career in 2005 at Keighley Saint Andrews CE Primary School and Nursery, teaching year two. In my second year there I went on the fast-track program to be taught about leadership.

I was the Deputy Headteacher there before I took on the role of the founding Principal at Dixons Music Primary. I’m very proud to have set this school up and designed the building. I led the school to an ‘outstanding’ judgement in 2016 and was delighted that the school secured fantastic outcomes in the 2018 SATs.

I’ve also worked as associate Executive Principal of Dixons Academies Trust and Head of Junior School for Fulneck Independent School and I’ve also been a Behaviour Adviser for the Department of Education. I was able to contribute to the work of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), I co-authored the improving behaviour in schools’ guidance report.

Michelle Blanchard teaching.

Supporting others during the pandemic

During the pandemic, I supported Early Career Teachers by delivering a number of webinars.

Being awarded an MBE

In January 2022 I was awarded an MBE for services to education. It felt a little strange at first and I did panic when I received a letter from the Cabinet Office! I found out in November 2021, but I wasn’t allowed to say anything until January 2022.

What I believe makes a good Teacher

  • Strong subject knowledge
  • Empathy and patience for all
  • Unwavering aspirations to teach a diverse class
  • Self-belief
  • Believing in all the children
  • High expectations
  • Removing any barriers for a pupil to succeed

 My top tips for Early Career Teachers

  • Organise your time well to avoid burnout
  • Ask for and accept feedback (feedback is a gift)
  • Go and see brilliant teachers in action
  • Do the simple things well
  • Don’t believe everything you read on Twitter!