Explore: Education

Head of Learning and Teaching
Royal College of Art, London

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Alison J

00:02 My name’s Alison J I’m head of learning and teaching at the London College of Fashion. I do teacher training, I teach on dissertations, I do educational projects and innovations, I work with course teams on curriculum designer delivery, I work with students on projects, on reflective practice, I make the tea.

00:24 I never really saw myself as a career woman, I never I wasn’t I just had no idea what I was going to do, there was lots of things I thought I’d like to do, but I never had that sense of vocational purpose or a particular field that I was desperate to be in.

00:39 I enjoyed school for the first 5 years and then I didn’t. It changed from being a grammar school to a comprehensive from the end of my 5th form. It was a time of transition and the school for me lost its identity plus I was probably becoming a grumpy teen, starting to feel that you know a convent grammar school was not really where I wanted to be.

01:05 My first degree was in modern foreign languages, largely because that was the thing I was best at at school and I had no idea what to do when I went to university and then when I came out the careers people in the early 80s couldn’t tell me what a good thing to do with languages would be, and they said, oh you could work in a bank and I though oh, so I kind of felt my way a bit and I really had, I’ve had quite an eclectic road my first job was at the Royal Institute of British Architects, then I moved into interpreting Italian interpreting for a computer consultancy, then I moved to Dorset and trained as a reflexologist worked in a natural medicine clinic, moved to Farnham, had two small children, did interpreting and a friend kept saying, you really ought to get into teaching, why don’t you do a bit of teaching. I’d think ‘oh no I really don’t want to do that’. And then I sort of was dragged kicking and screaming into part time teaching, loved it, completely loved it.

02:02 Got my teacher training in the early 90s, and somehow then I never left creative arts HE I never really meant to stay but, but that’s I think I found a spiritual home, I think I found all the things I’d done before other than maybe the reflexology I just thought, this doesn’t feel worthwhile, this doesn’t feel like it’s got a value or a purpose for me and higher education did give me that and it still does.

02:27 My father left school at 14 and subsequently set up his own book business and did all his learning as a very mature man so, I think, he was keen for me to go to university and have educational opportunities that he hadn’t had. He was, he was a man I wanted approval from, and I do remember the day my A level results came and how pleased he was, I was the baby, my sisters are 18 and 14 years older than me, baby of the family completely unexpected, mother died when I was at university in my second year, very suddenly and then 18 months later just as I was doing my finals my father died.

03:04 The thing was I was so shattered and I think I just wanted to get out, to me that undergraduate experience was hideous, I was surrounded by people who were saying I’ve just had a fantastic time at university and I was thinking my god I can’t wait for it to be over, and when my father then, did die I remember thinking, oh my god you know, how am I going to ratify my decisions, you know who’s going to be my, my kind of touchstone really. So yes that was a massive, I think I had to do an awful lot of growing up in terms of being an individual in my own right and I think what I kept not finding was value in what I was doing. I kept starting a job and I always stayed in them for a reasonable period of time but starting a job and just thinking, mmh this isn’t it either and that awful sense of you know 3 weeks in thinking oh god I’ll have to stay a year cos you can’t possibly leave after 3 weeks, you just think oh this isn’t for me either, I’ll give it a go.

03:57 And then the first afternoon I taught I remember just thinking, this is great, why didn’t I do this years ago?


Alison J is Head of Learning and Teaching at the London College of Fashion, “I do teacher training, I teach on dissertations, I do educational projects and innovations, I work with course teams on curriculum designer delivery, I work with students on projects, on reflective practice, I make the tea”. It took some time, and various different jobs, before Alison found her ‘spiritual home’ in education.

More information about Teaching and other educational professionals n.e.c.

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

27%  male 
73%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Job holders in this unit group perform a variety of other education and teaching occupations not elsewhere classified in MINOR GROUP 231: Teaching and Educational Professionals.
Entry is possible with a variety of academic qualifications, professional qualifications and/or relevant experience.
  • Designs and implements methods of assessing the performance of students, co-ordinates and undertakes the evaluation of assessments and awards grades of merit based upon performance;
  • Co-ordinates the activities of private music and dancing schools, training centres and similar establishments;
  • Provides private academic, vocational and other instruction to individuals or groups;
  • Teaches English as a foreign language and assists in the tuition of foreign languages.
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