Helen Ennis, Head of Department
Why did you join BAES?
I joined BAES as a literacy volunteer and found working with learners who struggled to read so rewarding that I wanted to make a career out of it and become an English teacher.
I’ve worked my way up from being a sessional teacher to my current Head of Quality Improvement role over 24 years, so have first hand knowledge of a lot of the roles in the service. Cut me and I bleed Birmingham Adult Education Service!
Tell us about your day - hours you work, who are your direct reports
Every day is different. My work is focussed on quality improvement, so I could be observing a lesson and giving feedback to a teacher, reviewing our exam results and attendance data or meeting with departments about their progress and what they are doing to improve the quality of their service to learners. I also lead on Equality and Diversity, so I could be involved in organising a celebration event, for example for Black History Month or LGBTQ+ History month. I also run the CPD department which provides training and support for all BAES staff.
I work basically office hours 9-5.30, but work evenings if needed to observe teachers or attend events, taking the time back in lieu.
I am responsible for two main teams, the Quality Improvement Team who work with teachers and managers to improve the quality of classroom delivery, the learner experience and outcomes, and the Learner Services team, who support learners with additional needs to achieve their goals.
How has BAES supported your career development?
BAES has always had a dedicated CPD department. As a new teacher I got access to induction and training to develop my teaching skills. New teachers these days also get bespoke coaching as soon as they start, access to a number of modules to ensure they understand BAES systems and processes, and an online induction.
The service has supported me to do a number of qualifications and courses over the years, by organising training, providing financial subsidy and mentors where needed. The service provides financial support for training which is essential to people’s roles, for example the Diploma in Education and Training.
Staff at BAES are very supportive of each other. You can’t underestimate the value of informal support from colleagues in showing you the ropes, sharing materials, techniques and experiences.
What values in the workplace are important to you?
The most important thing is remembering why we work for BAES – because of the learners. Being learner-focussed is my top value, because if we put learners and their needs first, that often provides a clear direction for everything else. This is coupled with excellence – we have to strive to do the best for the learners and have high expectations for them and what they can achieve – if they see that you believe in them, they start to believe in themselves.
Other key values for me are respect, inclusiveness, collaboration and hard work. Lastly, I would say follow-through, because anyone can talk but it’s action that brings about improvements.
What's the best thing about working at BAES in Birmingham City Council?
BAES is a great place to work because staff are very learner-focussed, our adult learners are highly motivated to learn, and we have a respectful, positive and diverse learning community.