Interview: Tim Morris

The head of sixth form at Pocklington School shares the merits of the VESPA mindset model

Tell us about your current role.

After being director of Sixth Form at Fulford School for seven years, during which the school was awarded ‘Comprehensive School of the Decade’ in The Sunday Times, I took on the role of head of sixth form at Pocklington School in September 2020.

My overarching objective was to enable all members of the school community to become the very best versions of themselves, through driving aspiration in every facet of school life, developing systems to improve consistency of approach, and keeping kindness and thought at the heart of every interaction.

From the offset, the Covid pandemic presented a plethora of additional challenges to overcome; however, it has been a pleasure to be part of a staff and student body that has risen to these challenges and flourished in the face of adversity.

At the time of writing, our upper sixth students are undertaking their final preparations for their summer exams. These fabulous young people have displayed and developed incredible resilience, grit and good humour during their two years in the sixth form, and I am excited to see them move on and continue to be the best versions of themselves in their lives beyond Pocklington School.

What issue in education are you most passionate about?

Enabling young people to develop healthy and effective mindsets for success. I am a strong subscriber to the VESPA mindset model (Oakes, Griffin and Dennis) where students are guided to develop a clear vision for their future; understand the amount and type of effort required for success; use effective systems to structure and organise their learning; undertake appropriate and relevant practice; and cultivate a healthy and resilient growth mindset attitude.

“ … it has been a pleasure to be part of a staff and student body that has risen to these challenges [Covid] and flourished in the face of adversity”

What’s the best piece of career advice you could give young people?

Understand yourself, do your research, be confident, develop your own ‘personal brand’, build positive networks, do more research and be adventurous!

What has been your career highlight?

There are too many to mention from over 20 years in the teaching profession! A few include: meeting Sir Ian McKellen; reaching the English Schools Basketball finals twice; driving academic progress and being awarded for this by The Sunday Times; making friends for life; meeting my wife; appearing on Newsround; trekking through the wild interior of Iceland; scaling volcanoes in Sicily; canoeing and wild camping along the River Tweed in November; being granted a sabbatical to travel the world for a year; having a positive impact on the lives of young people; being appointed as head of Sixth Form at Pocklington School…

Tim Morris, head of sixth form, Pocklington School


What was your favourite subject at school and why?

PE and games because I absolutely love all sports, am very competitive, and believe that the experience of true teamship is one of life’s greatest; geography because it enables us to simplify, understand, enjoy, and improve everything within our wonderfully complex and dynamic world.

What are you currently reading and what do you like about it?

My Garden World by Monty Don. Every short chapter facilitates a few mindful minutes at the end of each busy and varied day. A genuine tonic.

Tim went to St Boniface Primary School, Kidbrooke Park Junior School, and Sandown High School, Isle of Wight. He has a BSc in Geography and a PGCE in Geography and Games. He was at Fulford School from 1999 to 2020 and joined Pocklington School in 2020.

Twitter: @PockSchool

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