Richard Spencer, Principal of Ely College

“Teachers in the area are down to earth, friendly and willing to collaborate and work together to ensure the best futures for our young people.”

What is your career history? How did you get to where you are today?
I became principal at Ely College when the school joined the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust in 2016, having previously worked in schools in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. In 2015-16, I spent twelve months on secondment to Ofsted, working as part of the HMI team and leading inspections in a range of primary and secondary schools across the east of England.
I have really enjoyed working in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire because the area combines the best of Cambridge, like international transport links that allow you to be in London in under an hour, with a better quality of life.

What makes Fenland and East Cambridgeshire an exciting place to teach or lead?
Fenland and East Cambridgeshire is a great place to teach because of the community feel. Teachers in the area are down to earth, friendly and willing to collaborate and work together to ensure the best futures for our young people. This togetherness also makes for great partnerships with local businesses and community stakeholders which provides fantastic opportunities for our students.

Why is Fenland and East Cambridgeshire a great place to develop your teaching career?
There are many dynamic trusts and teaching school networks in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, which makes it a great place to teach, whatever your career-stage. If you are looking to become a teacher, there are a host of different ways to train. From Teach First to Researchers in Schools, there is something for everyone. The Opportunity Area have also fully funded National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) for teachers at all levels and I am currently taking the NPQ for Executive Leadership as part of this programme.

What support networks are in place for leaders in the area?
The Cambridgeshire Secondary Heads Association has been fantastic. The meetings allow us to collaborate on key issues and support each other with advice based on our previous experiences. I have also felt the benefit of working together in the Behaviour and Attendance Improvement Partnerships. This collaboration allows us to provide the best education, opportunities and support networks for children in the area.

What is the best part about living in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire?
Before becoming a teacher, I lived in London, but I had grown tired of it and wanted to live in a smaller community that was still close to London so I could visit my friends. Cambridgeshire has given me that opportunity and a better quality of life. It is fantastic to live in an area with the warmth and familiarity that London lacks. There are so many beautiful pubs and restaurants hidden away in the local area and interesting National Trust places to explore.