Craig Wright

Craig is an Assistant Principal at a secondary academy. He graduated from Manchester with a BA in Religions and Theology in 2011.

Here, he talks about what he does and how he got there following his time at Manchester.

On what I do

My main job is to monitor and improve the quality of teaching and learning across the academy.

Craig Wright

I teach in the third most deprived ward in the UK. Every day that these kids come to school is a miracle, and many of them come because it is the safest place to be.

I love interacting with students, working with them and, most of all, watching them collect their GCSE results every August when their hard work pays off.

Day to day I can be doing lots of other things too. Recently, I led on a pop-up food bank initiative to help with the hardship caused by Universal Credit in my area.

This meant lots of organisation, engaging local businesses and speaking to local and national media - not my usual day job!

But that is a wonderful thing about teaching - there's always something new to learn.

On how I got into my job

I have always wanted to be a teacher. From my very first day at secondary school, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, as education is a powerful tool that can make our world a better place.

My time at Manchester set me up for a rather rapid progression up the career ladder. My degree from Manchester gave me a wide number of options for my PGCE, and having The University of Manchester on my applications for jobs certainly helped.

I spent a year and a half at my first school before being promoted to a department leader, then a year later a senior leader.

On life at Manchester

Every statistic about children like me shows that I was never meant to be at university. I'm a kid from a comprehensive school and a single-parent family. I received £30 of EMA a week and I got every grant and loan I could, because my mum could never afford to help me.

So, the fact that I am an Assistant Principal and doing my dream job is a testament to the way that The University of Manchester embraces students of all backgrounds and recognises the value that diversity brings.

My lecturers were experts and I loved listening to them. I benefited from a programme which encouraged socials as well as academia, meaning I made a range of friends from various backgrounds, which helped me to see beyond my own limited horizons.

Most of all, I developed my leadership skills at Manchester when I approached my lecturers with ideas, and they encouraged me to 'get on with it' and supported me all the way.

Everything about my career I found out from the Careers Service. I would spend hours on the website, visiting the library and talking to advisors.

I even had a mock interview before my real PGCE interview, which was very useful. 

I've mentored students on the Manchester Gold programme, and I know that other professionals do the same - so get involved!

On studying Religions and Theology

Dr Jacqueline Hirst's storytelling module was one of my favourites, and I still use that material when I teach today. Religion, Culture and Gender inspired a passion in me to challenge patriarchy wherever I find it - my master's thesis focused on women in educational leadership.

I've always found religion to be weird and wonderful, but hearing a lecture from Dr Alan Williams about 'religion and hats' just confirmed to me that Manchester was not a place where research and academics were detached from the real world.

They knew how to make learning engaging and make us think differently about the world around us.

On the future

I'm standing as a councillor in my local area to try and make a difference through politics. I plan to apply for the role of Vice Principal this year and onwards to headship.

As well as all of this, I am in the first year of my doctorate, so I'll hopefully be returning to Manchester in the not too distant future as a lecturer. But only once I have been a Principal of a secondary school!

On my advice for other students

Embrace every opportunity the University can offer you. If you have an idea about how to make university better, go and tell someone and then get on with it.

Most of all, never let statistics hold you back. Break down barriers, smash glass ceilings and build ladders for people to follow you.

Teaching is a privilege and kids out there need good teachers. So I look forward to seeing you in my school in the future!