Wishing Marion Browning a wonderful retirement after 26 years!
Thinking Schools Academy Trust bids farewell, and Happy Retirement, to All Faiths Children’s Academy Headteacher, Marion Browning
Marion Browning took an inspiring and unconventional journey to her position as Headteacher at All Faiths Children’s Academy, on Gun Lane, but now she says it’s time for her impressive career to close.
She said, “I will be heartbroken to be leaving the school, the people, and the children. It was time to step back and open the position for someone who can be a young and dynamic role model for the children and the school.
“The school is a lovely little family, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of it.”
Mrs Browning came away from her own school life with few formal qualifications and explored a range of career paths before stepping into a parent supply teacher role at her local primary school, where three out of her four children attended.
While in this role, Marion taught art classes, football lessons, and supervised swimming sessions before gaining her lifeguard certificate to teach the lessons herself.
Once her youngest joined the school, Marion became the school’s caretaker, working unsociable hours during the week, where she would clean and leave notes of encouragement for children to find the next day.
While working these shifts, Marion would also provide support as a supply teacher during the school day when required.
She remembers that “one of the teachers, Mrs Cunningham, said, “Why don’t you train to be a teacher?” I said I couldn’t, I didn’t get the best grades in secondary school. I went to go back to the Sixth Form but they said no. I was very naughty and caused them a fair bit of trouble, but that’s a different story.”
After realising her passion for having a positive impact on young people, Marion sought advice and guidance about how she could formally get into teaching.
She took an access course to gain her outstanding A-Levels before accepting a place at the University of Avery Hill, where she completed a 4-year course, finishing with a 1st class (Hons) Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree.
While studying, Marion became a single mother and continued to work as a caretaker in the mornings and evenings to support her family and complete her degree.
After graduating, Marion got her first teaching job at Warren Wood School in Chatham and was later headhunted for Churchill Avenue School, where she became an Advanced Skills Teacher.
This meant that she would train and support struggling teachers and advise local authorities whether these teachers would make it in the profession or not. Through this role, Marion made her way to All Faiths Children’s Academy, where she has worked ever since.
Marion reflects, “I was sent to All Faiths for 3 or 4 years as an Advanced Skills Teacher, helping out the teachers, and then the deputy head was offered a place as a headteacher in Chatham. So, Derek (School Governor) who had gotten to know me over the years, said “Why don’t you put in for it?”
“I was interviewed by Derek, somebody else, and somebody else; there were loads of people, and I had to do a formal presentation on how to get the school out of serious weaknesses. The headteacher at the time then had to observe me teaching drama, maths, and English lessons, and I got through all of that and they offered me the job. That’s how I came here (All Faiths) 20 years ago.”
By accepting the job, Marion stepped into her first leadership role, supporting the growth of the school and its pupils.
Marion was there for the beginning of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, when the school joined with Rochester Grammar School in 2010 and over the years she worked under a number of Headteachers, including Mr Cormac Murphy, who now heads up fellow Trust school, New Horizons Children’s Academy in Chatham. It was following his departure that Marion took the next step as Headteacher.
Shortly after taking on the leadership role, COVID-19 hit, and Marion was facing a difficult and unusual headship. Sadly, in December 2021, Marion caught COVID herself and became incredibly unwell. Still suffering with long COVID aftereffects, Marion took the decision to step back and take retirement at the end of 2022.
Kirstie Jones, Executive Headteacher of the Strood Hub in the Thinking Schools Academy Trust and Head of Gordon Children’s Academy, believes Marion’s story is one of true motivation and proof that hard work and determination will help you achieve your dream.
She said, “Marion has been the heartbeat of All Faiths for the years that she has worked there. Her dedication to the school has been remarkable, and throughout periods of change, Marion has provided consistency for students, staff, and parents and has been able to guide them with her wisdom and remarkable knowledge of teaching. Marion has dedicated much of her life to teaching and has helped a huge number of teachers grow and develop into great practitioners.
“I would like to thank Marion personally for the kindness that she has always shown me and for always making me feel so welcome at All Faiths. She has often provided a listening ear and offered sound advice.
“Work has been an important part of Marion’s life, but anyone who knows her will also tell you how important her family is to her. As much as I will miss Marion in our Strood Hub family, I am very pleased that she will now get to spend more time with them, enjoying life and having exciting adventures.
“Best of luck, Marion; you deserve every happiness in your retirement.“
Marion is looking forward to her retirement, taking trips away with her partner and family, and enjoying experiences she missed while working. She looks forward to relaxing weekends when she can play golf, swim, garden, and finally complete her many unfinished art pieces.