What I’ve Learnt: Tony Jackson

February 3, 2020

After a promising career in banking, Tony Jackson swapped finance for teaching and is investing his skills as headmaster of Barnard Castle School, in County Durham. Educated at Bradford Grammar School, he studied politics and history of the Middle East at Durham University, spent two years in Sydney working for Macquarie Bank, before a stint playing professional rugby for Valencia, in Spain. Tony later joined Barclays, reaching relationship director level in just four years. In 2007, he decided to train as a teacher, securing a PGCE at Oxford University, where he played rugby gaining an Oxford blue. At Radley College, he taught history, sport, was head of careers and spent five years running a boarding house. In 2016, he joined Barnard Castle School as second master, taking over as headmaster in September 2017

The first lesson I learned in business was that there is more to life than money. Banking is a vital institution – it finances entrepreneurial zeal and stimulates development. Within four years of joining Barclays I’d reached relationship director level, and for a young man was moving in more mature circles. It was lucrative yet, for me, lacking in reward and personal satisfaction, which is why I turned to teaching. It is a career that goes beyond number crunching and where I can draw the very best out of students and staff.

As a relationship director in banking, my peopleorientated approach was easily transferable to teaching. Just as there are plenty of banks to choose from, there are a plethora of good schools. So to attract and retain ‘customers’ you must maintain integrity, be as good as your word and build a reputation.

You must be credible, driven and always positive and adaptable even when life doesn’t always go to plan. You need a thick skin because it is not always possible to please everyone all of the time and you must be able to take and respond to criticism in the most constructive manner. Building the right team around you is essential. Leaders create leaders.

Do not lose sight of what really matters in life. Good health, your family and love are why we are here. I learnt early on that you simply have to be there for your family, no matter how busy the job makes your life.

Putting your head in the sand and not listening is the worst mistake you can make. So many issues can be nipped in the bud with early intervention and effective communication. It is also important to remember that we all get things wrong. The crucial thing is how swiftly and effectively we deal with any mistake and how learn for the future.

Relying on school fees and with no Government funding support, school is very much run as a business and I am delighted to report increased admissions during my tenure. It’s an emotive business as our most valuable assets are children. My banking background is invaluable, and I am also blessed with a board of governors who have a wide-ranging and invaluable skillset from the legal, finance, property and business sectors. We all have a clear idea that this is a school dedicated to developing the character and skills of every child.

We strive to make staff feel part of something, valued and listen to. They have to know you have time for them. We care about our staff and they work tirelessly to help us create the school we want it to be. I can set the culture and drive it forward, but they are the ones who work on a daily basis to get the job done.

Barnard Castle School

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