Guest Post with Andy Ballard

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to be here today to bring you a guest post from Andy Ballard.


“Seeing it through” – why I wrote my story.

Although my family had a well rehearsed habit of naming the catalogue of relatives about which my father's mother had an encyclopaedic knowledge, none of it was ever written down. My father did compile a family tree, no mean feat with six uncles and aunts on each side of his family, he could trace no further back than his great grandfather, born the illegitimate son of Martha Ballard. Since then my daughter has traced the family back through Martha's parents to Edwin Ballard born in 1650.
Although this family history is of interest to us, it has nothing contemporary which helps us to understand who we are, and our place in the world.

My background is quite a humble one and my own personality has been forged in the slow burning fires of a working class family. Women who were in domestic service and men who were farm labourers or in the armed forces by design or by dint of the prevailing circumstances, yet none of it recorded and considered.

My own experience of school may be instructive in a world where politicians and others hanker for some aspiration to a non-existent golden age of the grammar school. My reflections on my training as a teacher and later my campaigning work as a national officer, and finally national President of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers gives a close up insight into the teaching profession and also into the work of a trade union, and some of the petty political ambitions which might thwart the work of representing over 100,000 members. In particular the story of the grave threat to the existence of ATL and how that was overcome will be of interest to anyone in a union, teacher trade union members, and especially those members of the newly formed Education Union.

I spent 45 years in continuous employment and much of it was demanding and stressful. Burdens that I picked up along the way were rarely dealt with and put down. Supporting others in difficulty was to be my stock in trade for over two decades and eventually I succumbed to the pressure and finished my working life, not as planned in a warm and happy contemplation of a job well done, but in mental turmoil as clinical depression took its toll.

I wanted to write the story of my life so that my family had a record of some of the key components of my grandparents’ and parents' lives, and perhaps an insight into the man I was to become, friend, husband, father, stepfather.  I lived a driven life, passionate about the welfare of children and workers, particularly teachers, and spent my working life trying to make a difference. For over 20 years this was as a classroom teacher of Biology and later as a trade union activist seeking to persuade decision makers to more considered and less ideologically motivated pathways.

I was encouraged to write this account also to seek a clearer understanding for myself, and as a therapeutic tool to aid me on the slow road to recovery from the long term damage of a stressful working life.  My hope is that my story will be kept by my family and further that any reader may enjoy taking stock of what happened to me, encouraged by the positives and warned about the pitfalls.

Thanks Andy for being here today!

Seeing It Through: The Story of a Teacher and Trade Unionist
Andy Ballard comes from quite a humble background; being a working class boy from a council estate at a middle class grammar school left its marks. A career teacher with nearly twenty- ve years in state education, he forged a second very successful career as a local, regional, and national of cer of his trade union. His story includes how his work at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers would secure the future of ATL and lay the foundations for the formation of “The Education Union”. Ballard describes the interplay between his private and professional lives, and bares his soul when the pressures of a lifetime of commitment brings his story to an unexpected conclusion.

About the author: Andy Ballard has enjoyed an extensive career in the education sector including twenty-five years as a science teacher before transferring his efforts to being a trade union official and advocate for teachers and their pupils at local, regional and national level rising to become national President of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Since then he has spent several years as a Senior Regional Official, covering the South West peninsula with a role as spokesman and advocate on employment issues for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Now retired, Andy enjoys spending time at Weston Rugby Club where he occupies the role of first team manager, as well as taking long walks in the Mendip Hills with his dogs, and writing the occasional comment article for his regional newspaper. He lives in Somerset with his family.

Happy Reading!

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