Explore: Education

Vice Principal
The Gateway Academy

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Richard Heighway – Vice Principal


My name is Richard Heighway I’m the vice principal at the Gateway Academy. My main roles are day to day looking after the school my main remit is looking after assessment so all of the things around the attainment and progress of the students, maximising their potential, ensuring that they’re in the right classes, obtaining the right support, looking at performance management of staff and students at the same time to ensure that they maximise their potential into the future.


What motivates me and it almost sounds a cliché is knowing that what you’re doing makes a difference and I think there’s no point in being in education if that’s not what you feel. It’s not a job that you can leave at home, the reality is you’re constantly planning, you’re constantly on emails, you’re constantly checking. The best parts are results day and performance management days and at the end of a lesson when everything’s gone brilliantly and the kids are leaving on a Friday afternoon with smiles on their faces.


There’s a lot more ups than there are downs. Some of the downs can be very difficult, but again that’s part of what we do. No day is the same, you can come in with a list of five things to do and leave with a list of 10 things and still not have touched the five that you’ve originally done and been busy all day. And as much as that brings on its own stresses that’s the love of the job.


I studied in Aberdeen and as a standard 21 year old didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do. So I followed the route that had paid me through university which was working in night clubs and bars I was offered a position as a trainee manager with a club that was just opening up which I snapped my arm off, I was 21 years old I was more than ready to leave education. I’d turned down two offers of a PhDs working in research medicine, wanted to earn some money and wanted to see the world a little bit. So yeah I became a night club manager but I’ve always felt there’s more to life.


I bumped into a colleague in one of the clubs that I worked in that I’d worked previously as a 16 year old as a trolley wally in a local supermarket and she’d just recently become a teacher. Got me in contact with someone at the school and I entered on to what’s called the graduate trainee programme. Then 12 years later I’m vice principal at this school.


You know I did very well in my first two years at secondary school, top of the year in this top of the year in that, mainly in sciences we don’t talk about languages. I spent my third year doing everything I possibly could to not be that person and to be popular. Probably wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve ever done, you know I talked too much, if there was a clever comment to be made I’d probably make it.


It was really when I got to my degree that I found my feet. At university found things that really made me tick. I left with my degree in Zoology with a specialisation in parasitology which is kind research medicine. It qualified me to then be a science teacher.


There’s no doubt my grand father shaped me a lot. That want, that thirst for knowledge was what really inspired me, I don’t know was never good enough I’ll find out was more likely what you’d come up with.


In terms of advice for people who would go into teaching, make sure that you’ve read around it, you know, don’t’ listen to the hype of the, you know the long holidays and the short days because they don’t exist. And anybody who’s been in and around teaching with any degree of you know sensibility is going to know that. It’s the most rewarding job but also a very difficult job. It doesn’t start on great pay but you know you put the miles in and the pay certainly isn’t terrible.


I would also say always keep the students in mind.



“No day is the same…that’s the love of the job.” Richard found his feet at university where he studied zoology. After graduating he became a night club manager before going into teaching. Now in charge of student assessment and attainment, he sees results day as one of the best parts of his role.

More information about Secondary education teaching professionals

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

40%  male 
60%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Secondary (and middle school deemed secondary) education teaching professionals plan, organise and provide instruction in one or more subjects, including physical education and diversionary activities, within a prescribed curriculum in a secondary or secondary/ middle school.
Entry is with a first degree that provides QTS (qualified teacher status) or, in Scotland, TQ (teaching qualification); or other relevant degree followed by further postgraduate training (most commonly PGCE – Postgraduate Certificate in Secondary Education, or, in Scotland, PGDE – Professional Graduate Diploma in Education). Further and higher professional qualifications are required for some teaching posts.
  • Prepares and delivers courses and lessons in accordance with curriculum requirements and teaches one or more subjects;
  • Prepares, assigns and corrects exercises and examinations to record and evaluate students’ progress;
  • Prepares students for external examinations and administers and invigilates these examinations;
  • Maintains records of students’ progress and development;
  • Supervises any practical work and maintains classroom discipline;
  • Undertakes pastoral duties;
  • Supervises teaching assistants and trainees;
  • Discusses progress with student, parents and/or other education professionals;
  • Assists with or plans and develops curriculum and rota of teaching duties.
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