Fellow SET member Professor Edward Sallis OBE reflects on his 45-year career to date, and why he believes there’s so much opportunity for growth, development and fun in further education.
Where do you work?
I am a self-employed consultant and visiting professor at Plymouth University.
How long have you been working in this sector?
I started teaching at Acton Technical College in West London in 1972 as a lecturer in liberal studies, and have now been working in this sector for 45 years.
What has been your career journey up to now?
I was Principal of Highland College in Jersey for 15 years. As Jersey is outside of the English system, I had far more operational freedom and room to experiment. In addition, the college was relatively small so this meant I could spend more time with the students.
Why did you choose teaching/training as a career?
I ‘fell’ into teaching. I had been an unhappy tax inspector and my best mate from university taught at Peterborough Tech and was having a better time than me, so I thought I would give it a try. I saw an advert in the London Evening Standard looking for a lecturer in liberal studies, applied and got the job. I had no training, I just started teaching and loved it from day one.
On top of my timetable, I did overtime three nights a week and in my spare time taught English as a second language. This experience gave me a great desire to get qualified and become a real professional. It led to a Masters degree, a PhD and a couple of postgraduate certificates, which more than made up for my lack of initial teacher training.
From there I taught in colleges in Hackney, Slough, Somerset, Surrey, Bristol and Jersey. I kept a strong interest in pedagogy throughout my career and wrote books, researched and lectured at the old staff college at Coombe Lodge. I have been very fortunate to be involved in a number of national initiatives, such as chairing the review of Functional Skills and carrying out consultancy in Canada, Ireland and France. When I joined FE, I didn't realise it was going to be so fulfilling.
What achievement are you most proud of?
In 2009 I received an OBE for services to education.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
To take every opportunity and make the most of them.
What recent CPD have you undertaken?
BTEC Diploma for Non Executive Directors, Level 7.
What has most surprised you about your career?
What enormous opportunities for growth, development and fun there are in FE.
What do you enjoy most about your subject?
When you know that what you taught has made a difference, it is the most satisfying feeling. A former student who I taught in the 70's emailed me out of the blue recently. He is a highly successful property developer in California and had seen me cooking a curry on YouTube and wanted to say thanks for the start I'd given him. What a joy!
What does being a member of SET mean to you?
It is very important to me, both professionally and personally. I believe the key aspects of professionalism are having a code of ethics, professional standards, and the opportunity to engage with my peers and SET provides that. When I started in FE, I felt we lacked this.
Who is your favourite author?
Tom Sharpe. His very witty book, Wilt, is still the only novel about FE.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I play blues on my guitar and I like walking on the beach. My favourite artist is Benjamin Sullivan, a fine contemporary portrait painter; I would love him to paint my portrait.
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