Alumni Outstanding Contribution: Janine Allen

The penultimate winner of this year’s Alumni Awards, presented at June’s Alumni Gala Dinner, was Janine Allen (BA(Ed) Mathematics,1995 and Certificate in Primary Mathematics Specialist Teacher, 2013) in the Outstanding Contribution category. Running for several years, the award was created to celebrate alumni who have given back to CCCU by enriching the experience, knowledge, and employability of students, or facilitating opportunities for business development and business growth.

We are grateful for all contributions made by our alumni and Janine exemplifies this positive attitude and is unquestionably outstanding. Her expertise in mathematics has contributed significantly to our Primary Education courses and curriculum since 2012, supporting undergraduate and postgraduate students by providing mentoring and work placements throughout. When not volunteering her time to better our students directly, she leads training sessions for the University’s personal tutors, ensuring their knowledge and understanding reflects current best practice.

On top of all of this, Janine made time to be interviewed by us following the event.

How did it feel to win the Alumni Outstanding Contribution Award?

Special. I hadn’t really thought that, having been shortlisted, I was doing anything ‘outstanding’ as a contribution to the university. I had nerves when the names were announced, wondering if mine would be called, but when it was, I was more concerned I didn’t trip up the stairs in front of all the people!

What did your journey to attending university look like?

From a young age, I had always wanted to be a teacher and university or college (as it was at the time) was the only route to achieving this. I came straight from school, managing the minimal grades to secure my place.  But even now, it’s the non-believer sixth-form form tutor who asked “why [was I] bothering to study maths” who I compare to the maths tutors at Christ Church, who made me the maths teacher I am today. Working in Medway, I maintained contact with Christ Church and when I had the opportunity to study a postgraduate course it was a natural choice as I’d already worked with the primary maths team.

Why is supporting our students and the University so important to you?

Both in my position at school, and now leading the Kent & Medway Maths Hub, I have a vested interest in supporting the training of those who will work alongside me in the future. The primary team have supported me to engage more in academic research to support my understanding of pedagogies. I’m increasingly proud to support our students as an alumni of Christ Church.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the education sector today?

Passion for teaching – it’s not a 9-5 job and not paid in line with many other graduate professions. Recognition and respect of the profession too – education isn’t something that should be played with, sometimes it can feel like initiatives are fads. As trained professionals we need to build our confidence to see above the fad to what’s the same and what’s different; to what we’ve done before and how will it make a difference to the children.

“My advise to students/prospective students who might want to go into teaching is to join the profession because you want to make a difference to the children.”

What has been your career highlight?

This is a really tough one – there have been a number of times when I’ve been proud – most recently achieving my National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership, initially being asked to lead Teaching for Mastery which led to being the Maths Hub Lead and heading up a team of Leading Teachers, which included one of the teachers who was my inspiration to be a primary teacher. The unknown reference to my expertise in a colleague’s book. The child from my first class who then quoted me as his inspiration when he joined university and the pupil I taught in Y6, who was a ‘cusp’ level 4 and came to celebrate her ‘top set’ achievement at the end of year 7.

What do you most love about the work you do?

Sharing my enthusiasm and seeing this reflected in either the pupils or the teachers’ reactions. I hadn’t thought about it until we were discussing over dinner at the Gala event, that just as I recall the patience Mr. Buentempo had with me, teachers of the future will be sharing their stories about the influence I’ve had on their practice.