In January 2021 the Wessex Learning Trust was proud to welcome a new member to our team with the appointment of Tamara Dexter as Headteacher at Cheddar First School. Tamara takes over following a competitive recruitment process during late 2020 and brings with her a wealth of experience in primary education. We sat down with Tamara after her first term to discuss her visions for the school, and what attracted her to Cheddar.
“It’s been a real privilege to work with the team at Cheddar First School during these unprecedented times. The entire team has risen to the challenges of the pandemic and shown great resilience, as have the parents and children” Tamara begins our interview – acknowledging that taking on a headship amidst a global pandemic is no mean feat. Despite this however, Tamara says that her first term at Cheddar has still been a good one and that it’s “been wonderful to meet the children and families” at the school, particularly since all children returned to school in March.
Tamara has not always been a teacher, and actually started her career as a financial advisor for HSBC; however despite this she has always been driven by a love for education: “An early love of learning created firm foundations for my enthusiasm and passion for education. I always wanted to become teacher as I wholeheartedly believe an excellent education is the key to changing and improving lives” – a philosophy the Trust couldn’t agree with more. Since deciding to take the plunge and train as a teacher, Tamara has spent 15 years in the industry working everywhere from village schools to setting up a brand-new academy in Weston-Super-Mare.
Across her career, Tamara has gained a number of skills which will enable her to provide effective leadership at Cheddar First. “I have been part of school inspection teams to support schools to continually develop and improve. I have worked with SCITT and NQTs and delivered NPQML training. I am also a ‘Local Leader of Education across North Somerset and Bristol for the ‘Boolean Maths Hub” to name but a few of her outstanding qualifications. Tamara goes onto recount an exciting opportunity where she even travelled to “China on a Heads delegation to establish a ‘Sister School’ project with a number of schools across Guangzhou”.
We went on to ask Tamara what had attracted her to come to Cheddar, and she notes how the school is at the “heart of its community” and that in joining the Wessex Learning Trust she saw “an exciting opportunity for the school and team to benefit from collaboration with other schools to continue to develop and improve the education for children across the Cheddar Valley” which was something she felt she had to be a part of. Tamara also has a huge amount of vision for Cheddar and tells us that “I believe aspirations for all children should be limitless. We will work in partnership with parents and the community to ensure children are guided to make positive, conscious choices to achieve extraordinary things. Pupil’s aspirations will be developed through their values as they aspire to be respectful, honest, trustworthy, empathetic, responsible and kind citizens”.
“My vision for Cheddar First School is to provide an extraordinary education by delivering inspirational, extensive and dynamic learning opportunities where individuality is valued and pupils are prepared to be lifelong learners in an ever changing world”. These are values that the Wessex Learning Trust believes in wholeheartedly, and Tamara’s drive and vision for the school leaves us confident that Cheddar First School is sure to stay the exceptional school that it always has always been, and one which continues to lead the way in outstanding outcomes for its children.
Outside of school, Tamara still finds time to be active and enjoys “being outside and taking part in activities including running, bike riding and walking my dog”, which in the beautiful Cheddar Valley should be no problem at all! In addition to this, she is a “very keen baker and loves to make lots of different types of cakes” – something we have no doubt the rest of the staff at Cheddar are very happy about!
To finish our interview with Tamara, we asked her what she hopes the school will look like in a year’s time. She said that first she is “hopeful that many of the restraints of the pandemic will have been lifted so that both children and families are able to enjoy the school in its entirety”, since unfortunately so many of the lovely activities like sports day and music lessons have had to move online since the pandemic hit. Beyond this however, “Cheddar First School will continue to be a school at the heart of its community where every child can advance and achieve across the entire curriculum. The curriculum will ignite a love of learning, inspire, motivate and expertly develop knowledge, skills and understanding. Pupils will learn to be effective communicators, inquisitive investigators, problem solvers, challengers and evaluators as they are immersed in an extensive academic curriculum accompanied by vast and varied enrichment opportunities. Our children will be equipped to solve local and global challenges as well as aspire for positive health and wellbeing for themselves”.
It’s fair to say that Cheddar First School is in safe hands, and that we can’t wait to see what Tamara gets up to over the coming months and years.
If you’re interested in sending your child to Cheddar First School, you can find out more at www.cheddarfirstschool.co.uk