29 Aug 2012: Farewell to Helen Birtwistle
Farewell Helen Birtwistle - inspired to become a teacher after six years with Debating Matters
The competition’s Resources and Communications Manager, Helen Birtwistle, is leaving after six years as a key member of the Debating Matters team. Inspired by her experience of working with young adults during her time with the competition, she moves on to train as a history teacher at the prestigious Institute of Education in London.
A former intern at the Institute of Ideas, she started working full time with Debating Matters in 2006, joining the team for its expansion of the competition. Spending her first year attending almost all 32 Qualifying Rounds with her colleague Justine Brian, she endured countless late nights, endless travel, and a variety of cheap travel hotels as well as great debates from students at schools and institutions around the country.
Tony Gilland, the competition’s director, reflects that:
“During her time working for the IoI, Helen has played a substantial role in making Debating Matters an exciting, challenging and enjoyable experience for thousands of students in the UK and India. Helen’s combination of intellect, hard work and sense of fun has been an important asset to the work of the IoI and a great source of support to her colleagues. Her willingness to take on new challenges has allowed Debating Matters to make important strides in relation to the development of our alumni programme, establishing Debating Matters in India and creating many resources to support the debate activities of schools across the UK and India. The fond messages of thanks and good wishes for Helen that have come into the office from students, teachers and judges in both countries are a tribute to the impact of Helen’s work.”
Former Debating Matters teacher and deputy head Richard Swan, in a message to Helen on her planned career move:
“You have been very special. You are very special. You will be very special. Hold the lamp high - you’ll inspire generations of students, as you have until now”
Claire Fox, speaking on behalf of all her colleagues at the Institute of Ideas, said:
“It’s a fantastic tribute to the teachers that Debating Matters works with that Helen has decided to join the teaching profession. I have no doubt she will inspire, motivate and most crucially educate, her future pupils with as much seriousness, fun and energy as she has the hundreds of Debating Matters competitors throughout the UK and India. Of course we will all really miss Helen day to day in the Institute of Ideas office but she will continue to be our invaluable colleague, albeit in her new role as a history teacher. And as an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Ideas, we look forward to cooking up some new educational initiatives together and collaborating with her on new projects for many years to come.”
Helen begins her History PGCE course in September, at an institution which has one of the largest groups of history education specialists in the world. As she relished each new challenge Debating Matters threw at her, we know she will tackle the challenges ahead with her customary verve and good humour. We look forward to Helen entering her first team into the competition.
Good luck Helen Birtwistle!
From all at the Institute of Ideas