Working life at Columbus

Hannah Austin - Phase Leader for the Early Years Department

Hello everyone, I am Hannah Austin and I am the Phase Leader for the Early Years Department. I currently oversee seven classes across School Campus, ranging from Nursery to Year 2.

In my eyes, it is one of the best jobs in the world! The incredible children and staff that I am lucky enough to work with every day, certainly make it hard to beat. There is never an un-exciting day and I get to see the very best bits of the children's achievements, which is just wonderful.

I joined Columbus School and College as a Newly Qualified Teacher, 13 years ago. From the age of just 12 years old, I realised that I wanted to be a teacher in a Special School; I attended such a celebratory Summer Fete at what was 'The Hayward School' (one of the two sites that many years later amalgamated to become Columbus), and I just knew that "this is what I want to do"!

Years later, after spending much more time at The Hayward School through work experience blocks, LSA work and volunteering at 'Mencap' holiday clubs, it was finally time to embark on my teacher training! I went to Canterbury Christ Church University and studied Primary Education, with specialisms in Inclusion and Early Years.

Getting my dream job as a teacher at Columbus was then the cherry on the top! I worked as a Class Teacher in Early Years for four years after qualifying, which were some of the happiest days of my career; the amount of joy that comes from a Columbus classroom is such a wonderful thing to experience.

I then moved into my Phase Leader role and have been leading the wonderful Early Years Department for the past nine years. Over the course of these nine years, Early Years has grown considerably, from just three classes of 28 children, to seven classes of 72 children; the opportunity to grow Early Years and enable provision for so many more children has been another particular highlight.

Whilst training in Canterbury, I met my husband, and we now have our lovely little boy who is three years old. For this reason, I work part-time currently with my working days being Mondays-Wednesdays. My wonderfully experienced colleague, Caroline Hutchins (Class Teacher and Phase Leader-in-Training), leads Early Years on Thursdays and Fridays.

As a Phase Leader we wear many different hats, but our overarching drive and aim is to provide the highest quality education and care for every single one of our very special children. In Early Years, this is through a highly nurturing approach, giving the youngest children the best possible springboard to the rest of their school journey, and beyond!