Redefining stereotypes by showcasing positive Black and Ethnic Minorities contributions, and empowering and inspiring the next generation.
I am…hardworking, kind and thoughtful school leader…
Who are you?
I am David Hermitt. I am hard working, kind and thoughtful school leader. I am married with four children and live in Cheshire. As a committed Christian, my values are found in the Bible. I believe that education is one of the keys to changing the world.
What is your present role?
I am Chief Executive Officer of Congleton Multi-Academy Trust. This involves running an educational trust of three schools with over 1600 children aged 3 to 18 and 300 staff. I use my 30 years of teaching experience to ensure that the children in our care receive a great education.
Tell us about your life journey so far. What has brought you to your current role?
I was born, raised and educated in the east end of London. My parents had moved from the Caribbean to England so that my generation could have access to greater opportunities.
My mum was determined that I should attend the best schools in the area and that education was the key to a better life. I was fortunate to attend exceptional schools where my teachers encouraged me to work hard and develop positive personal qualities.
They encouraged me to study academic subjects such as mathematics and the sciences and to make the best use of all my aptitude for sport.
As a teenager my height (6 ft 3) and athletic ability became a significant advantage. I had the opportunity to play basketball at the highest level coached by the legendary England basketball coach Humph Long who was my PE teacher. He encouraged me at an early age to also develop leadership and coaching skills.
My interest in the practical applications of Science led me to study engineering at the University of Sheffield. I intended to pursue an academic career in Engineering. It was while I was at University that I made a fundamental change in my career path.
I had always worked in my spare time with young people as a basketball coach and leading church youth groups. A headteacher asked me to help them out by teaching science to children at their school. I agreed and as a result I found a vocation that combined all my hobbies and talents into a job.
I changed direction and became a science teacher in the 1980’s and progressed through various promoted roles to become one of the youngest secondary headteachers in the country in 2005.
More recently in 2014, I was promoted again to lead an educational trust as CEO. My enthusiasm for the value of education in changing lives drives me on to do this work.
In your field of work, what has been your observation and/or experience of white privilege, discrimination and prejudices?
In school leadership in England less than 3% of headteachers are from BAME backgrounds. I have been able to overcome the barriers that cause this situation and would like to encourage others to do the same.
Many academically gifted BAME teenagers choose to pursue more traditional careers like engineering, medicine and law. Perhaps they feel that barriers can be broken down more easily in these fields. There are so few BAME teachers to act as role models in education that teaching is not considered an option.
To improve this situation, I have been involved in working with others to promote teaching to the BAME community. We have provided access to positive leadership and coaching programmes to help young BAME teachers make progress in their careers.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?
I believe that working hard is always the key to success. Putting in hours of preparation is required to be successful in any walk of life. This is true in teaching. In addition, I would encourage anyone to make the most of their educational opportunities and invest in gaining leadership skills from a young age.
What song, quote, statement or image do you find most encouraging?
“If you put in the work, the results will come” Michael Jordan
How are you redefining a stereotype?
The stereotype is that young gifted black males can only have a successful career in sport. Although sport remains a lifelong interest, working to educate children is long-term vocation and has provided a fulfilling career.
What advice or top tip would you give to the next generation of BAME individuals?
Work hard and do not be afraid of hard work. Pursue the things that you are passionate about and see where this leads you.