Stephen Norwood - Biography

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Biography of Stephen Norwood

Stephen Norwood

According to my mother I should of been born on the 30th July 1966. Already two weeks past my due date I should of been induced then. However, due to a little football match at Wembley between England and Germany the doctors were more than happy to delay my entry in to the world. So in the end I was born near Hyde Park Corner, London about 12 hours after England won the World Cup in 1966. My father was a policeman originally from Yorkshire and my mother had moved from Co Wicklow, Ireland to work in an aircraft factory.

My early childhood was spent in Victoria, London, living close to the coach station and the buildings housing Pan Am Airways and BOAC (now British Airways). These were frequent targets for bomb threats during the disturbances in Northern Ireland and the flats where we lived were often evacuated. I and my brothers were hospitalised for weeks with Whooping Cough and my mother became increasingly concerned about air pollution. These factors led my parents to move to Sunbury on Thames on the Surrey/Middlesex border and I have continued to live and work in the area since.

After a number of jobs I eventually trained to become a primary school teacher graduating from Kingston University with a Bachelor in Education. I had appendicitis just before my final exams and so was late applying for jobs. I therefore did some teacher supply work before I took up a temporary teaching role covering maternity leave for two terms. So it was a year after graduating before I secured my first permanent teaching role in a large junior school. I loved being a primary class teacher and was given lots of opportunities to develop my practice by the inspirational headteacher. I started a part-time MA in Education focussed on the use of information communication technology (ICT) in education at Brunel University. However, after the birth of my second child I didn't want to sacrifice any more time studying and so graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. I got a promotion in school to Year Leader and was involved in coordinating the gaining of the Healthy Schools Award. This work helped shape my interest in the health and emotional well-being of children and staff. It also gave me my first substantial role in leading whole school change.

I decided that I wanted to move into school leadership and studied for then new National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) from the College of School Leadership. My first role as a deputy headteacher was a complete disaster. Within days of arriving I realised that I couldn't work with the headteacher who engaged in behaviour that I felt was wrong. I didn't know what to do and the situation triggered huge stress for me and I left immediately. I was lucky that a temporary role came up at my previous school and I returned a few weeks later to the school I loved and began to build my confidence again.

I then took up another post as a deputy headteacher and later also took on the role of Inclusion Manager. I was given a lot of freedom by the forward thinking and inclusive headteacher to develop practice for pupils with additional needs. I was fortunate to be invited to get involved in a number of projects at local and national level. This helped me hone my presentation skills and knowledge of delivering effective training to staff across the local authority. However, I found the wide ranging demands of being a deputy headteacher difficult to juggle and increasingly neglected my own small teaching commitment as I focussed my energy on these projects. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and being off work for most of 2011 I decided to move away from school leadership and concentrate on developing my work in special needs. I was lucky to get a part-time role as a specialist teacher for Surrey where I provided guidance and training to schools in managing behaviour. I returned to Kingston University to complete an MA in professional studies in Education focussing on speech and language development; autistic spectrum disorder and working memory. Working part-time afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my work more and develop information and resources for all the busy teachers I supported. I had begun thinking about setting up a special needs website whilst recovering from cancer treatment. At the end of 2011 when I returned to work I began writing the first pages. In my new role as specialist teacher I used the website to post resources that the schools I supported could easily download and use. I continued to add content to it and also began developing resources to support the parents I was working with who had children with additional needs. Due to new symptoms related to my cancer I retired in 2017 but still try to spend time each day writing articles and creating resources for the website.

I have been married to my wife Catherine for over twenty years and have two children and three guinea pigs.