Welcome to the new Knights Temple Grove Principal
Meet Jason Ofori, new Principal at Knights Temple Grove
Starting at Knights Temple Grove primary in January, Jason took some time out of his busy induction schedule to share his views on being a teacher, what he looks forward to in this new role and gives us a little glimpse into his life.
How long have you worked in Education?
For 10 years now. I started as a one-to-one assistant and then became a teaching assistant, which was about two years in total. I then then became a teacher, worked up to an Assistant Headship and most recently I’ve been a Deputy Head
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
It was down to the teachers I had growing up. Primary education was a significant part of my life. I came from very humble beginnings and it was my teachers who told me to aspire beyond what I could see in my environment. That always stuck with me. As I got older, I was always thinking of ways I could give back and I wanted to give children what my teachers gave me.
What motivates you in general?
I always try to be the best version of myself. I like to reflect and always improve on what I did 10 mins ago, 10 days ago, all the time.
What's the most positive thing to come out of the pandemic?
For me personally, it's self-reflection. We lead really busy lives in London, we don't always care for ourselves as much as we should or do the things we want to do because we're so busy. The pandemic has given me the chance to be still in the moment and think, and really consider how I can avoid making the same mistakes and genuinely improve so I can be the best version of myself. I’ve enjoyed slowing down and being able to feel grateful for what we have.
How do you feel about the task of help children to catch up on their learning?
Nationally we have seen resilience, a resilience that we may not have seen without this pandemic. For the children, it’s really important to show them that it might not be easy, but that we can do it – anything is possible, that they can aspire, dream and achieve.
What do you like doing out of school, when you’re not Mr Ofori?
I have an obsession with trainers, I won't say how many pairs I have! I love sourcing different types of footwear, vintage etc. I also love the theatre – a very long time ago, I was really into street dance and performing art, so I’d try and get to the theatre as much as possible. I’m also a total bookworm, I love to read whenever I can. It’s easy for me to tell the kids to read because I genuinely love it myself!
Where's the most unusual place you’ve ever visited?
It has to be the village of the long necks in Chiang Mai, Thailand - a culture of people who have long necks and long limbs. From the age of 4 they use rings to stretch their necks, adding more rings the older they get. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before and was just so fascinating to learn about this culture. It was part of a bigger trip around Asia with friends which also included stops to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Borneo and Bali.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you wish for and why?
A Kindle so I can have several books to keep me occupied, a photo of my mum – she’s my biggest champion and I’d treasure that, and an electronic journal so I can document my time there.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I am so proud of the progress that the first child I ever worked with as a one-to-one assistant made. Working with him in Years 5 and 6 and the resulting change in him made me want to stay in education. He had high levels of autism and was mute, it wasn't an easy job but was rewarding. I don't like quick fixes. I think real change has to be embedded. We've kept in touch and he's now 19 and the change in him is amazing.
His mum and family have been so grateful for helping to instil a thirst for learning, and that along with being able to see the difference you can make to a child’s life, is what has kept me in teaching and education. I want to see the children I’ve worked with as the next teachers, doctors, lawyers, whatever they choose to be, as long as they aspire, dream, and achieve.
If there is one piece of advice you want your pupils to take away from school, what would that be?
Never give up. The perception of success is taught to children from an early age, that it's a simple linear progression. But this is of course not true; success is very messy and comes in different forms. Sometimes you fall down but the key is getting back up. I like to teach children about resilience and tell them the realities behind the glamour of success. That there's a lot of hard work and commitment behind the scenes. There will be hurdles along the way, but you have to pick yourself up and keep going. Be resilient.
How are you feeling about becoming part of the Haberdashers’ family?
Early on in my first role in education, I worked in a school around the corner from Hatcham College and the parents were all striving to get a place for their child at Hatcham – the Haberdashers’ schools were so sought after. So that was my first impression. I love that it feels like a real family and community. It seems like a supportive environment and there is a sense that the Federation invests in us as people as well as practitioners, which will help us be more invested in the children. I feel motivated and inspired by the new colleagues around me. I love the fact that they are in the business of really trying to change lives and not taking the easy route.
What are you most looking forward to as Principal of Knights Temple Grove?
For me, I am really motivated by experiences that reflect my own upbringing. When I look at Knights Temple Grove and the other Haberdashers’ Aske’s primary schools, it’s reminiscent of my own primary school experience. It’s personal experience that showed me social mobility really does exist and I want to give these children the same chance to be socially mobile, just as I had that same opportunity.
I'd love it if the students who are here now were to come back to me in 10 years' time to let me know what they've achieved and are continuing to strive for. I'm looking forward to hearing their stories after they move on from Knights Temple Grove.