Director of Studies – Philip Carr
Philip Carr read English Literature at Queens’ College, Cambridge and has an MA in Victorian Studies from the University of Leicester. He has held the position of Head of English at several other schools, most recently at Ealing Independent College.
Role at MPW
As a Director of Studies, my role is largely pastoral. The job is extremely varied, depending on the day-to-day circumstances. It’s a matter of responding to students’ needs and liaising with parents and other teachers. I check on each of my tutees every week. We adapt our responses according to the student and the need. During the Christmas term, I help students with their university applications. This is an important part of the role.
I also have an academic role. I’m currently teaching GCSE English Language and Literature, which I’m very much enjoying. Since joining MPW I have also taught A level English Literature and A level English Language. I taught for almost thirty years in a state school, and I did the whole range of the curriculum then. So, I’m quite enjoying doing that again here in MPW.
I joined MPW in January 2018. I very much enjoy the job. I think the Director of Studies role is certainly quite demanding. I enjoy the challenges and the variety that every new day brings. I feel I have been very lucky to have excellent colleagues who have been very supportive and have helped me with the role.
Do you have any Published Writing?
I have had poetry published in The New Welsh Review, one of the two leading poetry journals in Wales. I have had some reviews published by the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) in ‘English in Wales’. WJEC has also published a booklet I wrote for GCSE and A level students on the poetry of Henry Vaughan. I would like to think that I’m eventually going to get some fiction published.
I enjoy being in education. I’ve been education a long time and I’ve never really felt any great urge to retire. I like working with young people and I enjoy teaching. The role of Director of Studies, as it was described to me, struck me, although late in my career, as an interesting career development. Although I had been a personal tutor all my teaching life, the role of Director of Studies was a different role with a greater and more extensive pastoral element. Before I was offered the job I had experienced the MPW ambience as I had done Easter Revision in 2017. I liked the atmosphere of the college; everything seemed to work well and I enjoyed the staff and their conversation. After my experience of Easter Revision, I wanted to join the MPW staff.
Describe MPW in three words
Varied, interesting, positive.
Why English Language and Literature?
I enjoy A level English Language very much. It’s an intellectually demanding A level; it’s quite a challenge to the students and to me. I enjoy trying to improve my knowledge by reading further into the subject. I think it opens new areas of awareness. English Language relates to the world in which we live. We explore how language can be used for manipulation and how we convey meaning in ways that aren’t explicit. And you can explore some interesting conundrums. If a cupboard is ‘unlockable’, does it mean you can’t lock it or you can’t unlock it? A lot could hang on that! We look at the language of the mass media, gender and race, dialects, how children develop their speaking and writing. It’s such a wide range.
GCSE teaching: I enjoy working with the younger students and helping them to undertake what is a key GCSE for them. I hope to extend their sensitivity to and awareness of language. I don’t just teach the syllabus. I also extend their wider reading. For example, I’m reading ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ with my two English Language groups at the moment. And I feel a certain nostalgia. These classes remind me of when I was Head of English for many years in Powys.
The English Literature GCSE gives the students and me the chance to explore a wide range of worthy literary texts. We analyse prose, poetry and drama texts. I enjoy introducing students to Shakespeare.
MPW: Beyond the Classroom
I oversee the Student Council in the college and the Debating Club. As part of the Student Council’s work, we compete in the ISA public speaking competition. We also take part in the annual Model United Nations at St Paul’s School. The Student Council also does some fundraising. At the end of the Christmas term, we raised money for Save The Children. The Student Council also supports The Rainbow Trust and we’ve raised money for them for a couple of years now.
We compete in the CIFE inter-college quiz and came second out of ten colleges last year. And we do the Christmas decorations.
Philip: Beyond MPW
Reading is one of my main interests.
I enjoy languages. I’m fairly fluent in French, mainly in terms of being able to read the language. I’ve read many of the French classics. I’m currently trying to learn modern Greek, which has been a lifetime ambition of mine. I also know a fair amount of Welsh.
I’m very interested in cricket. I ran a junior boys’ cricket team for four or five years in Wales (five of my alumni played for Shropshire.) I like running. I have run the marathon twice. I try to run home from MPW to my flat once a week.
One of my interests is walking in the countryside. I’ve done a great deal of long-distance walking in my time: backpacking, carrying a tent, and sleeping out in the countryside. I have done some splendid walking in the Canary Islands and in Cyprus as well as in the Pindos mountains in Greece. I enjoy walking in the countryside south of London. My son has set me up with the OS app – which is very useful.
Any tips for future MPW students?
Never give up. Always be positive. We can find an answer to problems; problems do occur in life and everyone has them. Not everyone finds learning easy. We can find a way to make things work. Just trust us and we’ll find a way through.