Retirement Beckons For Miss Briscoe

Hundreds of teachers across Wolverhampton and beyond owe their start in the profession to Miss Briscoe, but after nearly three decades in the classroom – and twenty years at the helm of the school’s teacher training programme – the popular Art teacher is preparing for a well-earned retirement.

Miss Briscoe arrived here in 1990 as a newly-qualified teacher and has spent her whole working life helping students and staff. She added: “I’ve always been at Moseley Park. It is unusual to spend your whole career at the same school nowadays, but I’ve had fantastic opportunities here to progress and work with a wonderful staff. Over the years I’ve had a lot of different roles, I’ve been head of department, head of faculty, head of KS3 and a member of the senior leadership team – it’s certainly never been boring. It has been nice being in the same place and watching it change over the years. I regularly see parents of students I teach now, who I also taught, and they always ask if I remember them.”

She is currently senior leader of Initial Teacher Training and is a familiar face in the corridors supporting trainee teachers to develop and grow. “I’ve been involved in training new teachers for 20 years now,” she added. “And I think I must have been responsible for launching hundreds of teaching careers during that time. A lot of colleagues have progressed to senior positions themselves. I’m very proud of the contribution I have made – it’s lovely to feel you’ve made a difference.”

But Miss Briscoe’s life nearly took a very different path when she was torn between Art and Science as a teenager. “I grew up in Wolverhampton and I went to Highfields where I stayed on to sixth form. I loved both Sciences and Arts. At one point I really quite fancied the idea of being a dentist, but I wasn’t going to be able to do well enough in Physics A-level, which was required for the course, so I went to Art College instead,” she added.

After going on to Wolverhampton School of Art and then a postgraduate qualification in Birmingham, Miss Briscoe worked as a Graphic Designer and then started to lecture. It was this that proved to be the turning point in her life as seeing her students make progress sparked her enduring love of teaching. She joined Moseley Park in 1990 – and has never looked back.

Moseley Park has changed enormously during Miss Briscoe’s career – she has worked for six headteachers and seen the school change and develop almost beyond recognition. “When I first started, the school was over two sites,” she added. “There were lessons at the old Etheridge site and at the site we’re on now, which was originally Bilston Boys’ Grammar School. We used to walk the students between the sites for different lessons.

“In those days students of all years could go out of school at lunchtime, so Mrs Loverock and I would go into Bilston for our lunch – my mum’s from Bilston, so we always went to the same sandwich shop. We’d spend our lunch hour chatting with some of the parents and other local people in the town centre and then round the students up at the end of lunch to return to school. It was a lovely atmosphere where parents and grandparents of our students would always come over for a chat and sometimes walk with their children back to school.”

Miss Briscoe’s career at Moseley Park started by chance, but has endured due to her love of the school. “I first came to Moseley Park to cover a maternity leave and then the person I was covering decided not to return – and the rest as they say is history. I have been tempted to try teaching at other schools over the years, but there’s always been something to keep me at Moseley Park. It has a very big place in my heart and means a lot to me,” she said.

But she will not be leaving completely just yet. “I’ve decided to ease myself gently into retirement,” she added. “I’ll still be teaching at Moseley Park two days a week for a while,” she added. “But I have plans to pursue my own art work too. I’d like to exhibit and I’ve already transformed my garage into a little studio. I want to do a bit of travelling too – I’ve already seen a lot of Europe, but it’s occurred to me that I haven’t seen a lot of the UK. So I’m going to be taking the opportunity to get out and about.”

So what advice does she have for teachers just starting out in their careers? “Try to be calm and caring and build good professional relationships with your students. Make sure you have a real passion for your subject. There will be challenging times, but the positive times will always make up for the challenges. Seeing students progress and being able to work with such professionally generous and caring staff makes a huge difference.

“It has been a wonderful experience being here at Moseley Park. I do not think I could have done what I have at another school – Moseley Park is incredible. It will be very strange not to be coming here every day, but I think the time is right to slow down and enjoy myself a bit.”