We talk to Charlotte Sultana Evans, a PE teacher who has relocated to Malta. She tells us what her life is like day to day as a role model for so many young people and the issues she has faced as a woman!
Tell us a bit about your current role?
So I am a PE teacher and the Lunchtime activities Co-Ordinator. It’s a backward step from being Head of PE in the UK. But I love it. I have less paperwork, more time with the children and more time planning fun lessons.
Basically, I plan lessons and follow a PE curriculum we are currently developing a way of assessing the students.
I also coordinate coaches to come to the school to deliver activities to the pupils during Big Break. Making sure the children are moving, having fun and using their big breaks wisely.
Give us an idea of how your normal day pans out?
So I get to school around 8 am quick brew, check the cover board to see if I am replacing lessons.
Teach my lessons, or if I am free I’m sorting out letters for the school’s teams, answering emails, in meetings, planning the level 7 camp trip planning our activities day. 12:05 middle school break starts so I roam around checking children are joining in, not climbing trees. 12:45 we get middle school children back to lessons and then senior school children come for their break.1:30 I make sure the children are making there way back to lessons, and I then teach my last lessons of the day, of if I have a free I catch up on normal teacher things. 3:30-6:30 on some days I then go to a sports centre and coach for sports malta, this could be a range of things Parent and child fundamentals, Handball, gymnastics, basketball, Athletics…etc. Or I plan a Rugby session or do some rugby Admin for the club. Then on some days 8-9:30 rugby coaching/training. Then go home make tea and do the housework!
How do you ensure that you are an inspiring leader?
I try to listen and take on board what people are thinking. I tend to lead by example, so make sure I have done everything I am asking them to do. I don’t like asking people to do things which I haven’t done myself.
What made you choose this industry?
I like working with children, I love sport and teaching sport to others. The holidays also motivated me, otherwise, I could do the Girlguiding quite the same, or take the long trips/projects/holidays I have. Also, I hated PE when I was 11-13 years old and then someone again came along and said “Charlotte your good at Sport” then that was it, I was in every team and it became my career. I really try to make sure people didn’t have the same negative PE experience I did when I was 11-13.
How did you get in the position you are now?
I was pushed to be Head of PE, I turned down the job 3 times because I had minimal confidence by the end of my teacher training…. but the head obviously believed in me, so in the end, I said yes, and it was the best thing I had done really because although I was thrown in at the deep end 5 years later, I had made the department much much better and created a nice working environment, it wasn’t perfect but it was much better. Doing that middle manager role has made the tasks I do now much easier because I have a bank of experiences to recall and use to help.
What are your key motivators?
It is teaching the children and seeing them grow and have fun through Physical education. I have considered leaving the profession, but when I do go “right that’s it I’m leaving” I get sad and don’t. Also trying to finish our dream house and paying the bills.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Google calendar is amazing, I have a linked calendar with my wife with colour-codes so we make sure we know what we have and what we don’t! Since moving to Malta work-life balance is much much better, lower pay but a better balance. In the UK the teaching profession was just plain insane, and by all accounts, it’s getting worse.
However in Malta, I am no longer ahead of PE I just teach PE and its be great; simply planning and delivering lessons and having the opportunity to teach the child, rather than worry about are the children reaching national standards in PE. In the UK I often looked at children as a number rather than a person. I don’t do well sitting still so Myself and my wife have both started surf ski and it been great to try a new activity outside rugby and simply for fun rather than competitive.
How do you feel about being a positive role model?
I like it, I didn’t really think much about it, but the last few years in Malta I have had some lovely comments from fellow colleges and the children. Saying that I inspire the children and that I look after all in PE, the ones that excel and the ones that hate the subject I allow all pupils the opportunity to be the best that they can be.
Although at Lunchtime when I want a massive pie from the canteen and I remember I’m the PE teacher I have to get Pasta or try and sneak the pie out under my T-shirt… it annoys me…
It was a kids birthday in school today, she had doughnuts for the class, and I allowed the class to have one at the end of PE. Kids where like are you sure we are allowed, Miss…I was like yes today just this once when really, I was glad the Maths teacher didn’t get the opportunity the doughnut was ace!
What has been your biggest knockback?
Not having what it takes to play for the England Women’s Rugby Team. I like to think I am over it, but I don’t think I ever will be. Whenever I see them play there is an annoying niggle in the back of my mind. Did I try my best? Did I make the correct choice?
What is your biggest achievement?
Being part of a GOLD team (Guiding Overseas Linked Development) Becoming a qualified teacher to then becoming a head of PE at 25 and surviving being thrown in at the deep end. The Queen’s guide award and Gold Duke of Edinburgh I had great fun achieving these awards.
Being made a vice president of Sheffield Rugby Club and being one of the key people to keep the ladies team going, the starting of the Sheffield Jr Girls team. Now Sheffield is a very strong club with all girls age groups covered. Another one is moving abroad getting through the paperwork and being a recognized qualified teacher in Malta.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Go with the flow and enjoy every moment you are about to encounter. Side note locate Waterloo rugby club and start playing rugby sooner!
What barriers have you faced in your career?
Bullying. Surprisingly enough from another woman. She was my mentor for my teacher training as well as being my line manager and just made it much harder than it needed to be. Whether she realised what she did to me or not I will likely never know, but it held me back in my confidence as a teacher and as a human.
What do you think we need to do to break down barriers in the workplace?
Look after people, it’s insane how much bullying in the workplace happens. The amount of trainee teachers I have spoken to who are just pushed and pushed is embarrassing. They end up becoming a qualified teacher only to leave and follow another profession. Also, have realistic goals for people and work together as a community, allow people to achieve but also allow them to learn from mistakes, rather than punish them.
People need to be open with each other and just help, we are all human at the end of the day trying to live our best lives. So help them!
If you could change one thing about the working world what would it be?
No Boxes. No prejudice, literally everyone is equal, Man, Woman, whether you’re older/younger. Experienced or not. It should be about the person and can you nurture them into the job they want to pursue. If someone struggles then why, can you help them? Do they want to be helped?
What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
Listen, ask questions make notes
Work hard and it will all come together
What’s great about being a female in your role?
I am a PE teacher who has two sporting interests one is trampolining which could be seen as a traditional female sport and then the other is rugby which could be seen as a male sport. So already in my interests, I challenge the box.
Also, I have to organise Big break, back in the day the boys took all the pitches during the big break, and the girls had an allocated slot, but were not encouraged to use it. The previous PE teacher did a great job but had too many other things on to give the pitch allocation a thought. Now I have ensured that the girls and boys have equal space on the pitch. But at the same time, if the girls don’t use the space, they will lose it, because it’s not about being entitled to space they also have to earn it and be respected, same for the boys, if they misuse the space they lose it.
Now with the many many arguments with the boys and girls about fairness and allocated pitch time and a year later the boys and girls now respect each other at Big Break. What made this hassle even more worth it is the U13 girl’s team won the inter-schools, thus “thankfully” showing the boys why the girls needed equal playing time.
Why is “yes she can” important to you?
Because it’s about giving belief to women. A bit of belief can go along the way, it’s not about solving problems for women it’s giving a new mindset and the tools to solve the problems for themselves.
Do you think government quotas are a good thing around diversity?
Not really because you never know if you got the job on merit, or if you where simply a tick for a box and some crazy funding policy. I hate that they have to exist. But the open mind that I am, I see the need for them, because companies don’t like change so if they have always employed a certain “type” of person they will continue to do so unless pushed in the correct direction.
What do you say to your male colleagues about equality?
I work with male PE teachers, who literally joke around all day, if I was to ask this they would come out with all sorts of stereotypical jokes… But I have never felt lower than a male colleague in my profession, I have always felt equal.
Does diversity really help organisations?
I think it does, it gives the opportunity for the organization to gain exposure to different genders, cultures, religions, ethnicity… Which in turn give the opportunity for a broader skill base in the organization.