Anna Coulson is managing director and co-founder of Champion Tutor, which offers children centred teaching to improve grades, boost confidence and support students to reach their full potential. Anna is passionate about incorporating mental health and well-being practice that is backed and proved by research into the tuition that she offers young people.
Where do you call home?
I grew up in Stainton in Middlesbrough, but I now live in a barn in East Rounton, North Yorkshire with my twin girls. It’s so quiet and peaceful and we are happy going on little walks and visiting friends and family who live close by.
Tell us about your role?
I am the managing director of Champion Tutor. I founded the company with Linda Burgess, who is the operations director. Champion’s ethos is simple: to give students the precise support they need to reach highly aspirational goals, delivered by tutors with the intuition to assist their positive mental wellbeing.
How did you get to where you are today?
From an early age, I acted out the role of a teacher. All my teddies and dolls were lined up as pupils and I bought little exercise books and spent hours marking work each night.
I loved school and that was because of my school friends (who remain close to this day) and the teachers. I recognised good teachers and the qualities of those that I learnt most from at school. A teacher named Madame Sinclair inspired my love of French and I went on to study this at university alongside tourism.
After my degree, I started my career in the business world and recognised the benefit of working alongside business colleagues to secure the best outcomes for children. In 2016, I developed a programme entitled Developing Future Winners, which offered a greater understanding of the business environment children may enter, in order to motivate them to strive to reach their goals.
In a teaching career that has spanned almost two decades, I progressed quickly from teaching to increasingly senior roles. I held positions such as EYFS and Key Stage One leader, deputy headteacher, head of school, executive headteacher, and director of a large teaching school alliance and then CEO of a large multi-academy trust. I completed my NPQH and, in 2016, was designated a national leader in education (NLE).
In May 2021, I was driven by the motivation to create the most emotionally intelligent tutor company, attuned to the personal motivations of its students, to achieve the greatest academic progress and excellence and a thirst for success in life.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
I have faced many challenges. There has been pain along the way. I have high standards for children, although sometimes people and other leaders have challenged me that I expect too much.
I also lack confidence, apart from when I am teaching children. That is the place I am most comfortable. I have always thought and still think others are better. I have put trust in people and been let down, but I always looked to the best leaders and tried to emulate and aspire to be like them. I have a fear of failure, but I am driven by teaching children, their progress and their mental health and well-being.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
There are a few moments! The first one was when I was appointed early years leader and key stage one leader by a leader that I admired greatly. The next was my executive headship at St Bede’s in Marske which became one of the top performing primary schools in the country. The team within that school was based on our family values and it was the happiest place I’d ever encountered. The staff strived for the highest standards and were hungry to learn.
Champion has been built from scratch and earned a reputation. The tutors, families and students are a pleasure to work alongside. To see the positive comments on social media about the impact of the tuition on their child is just beautiful.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
My advice would be to work hard and be resilient. There will be great times, but there’ll also be knock backs. I try to surround myself with the best people and learn from them. Passionate, hardworking people inspire me in any sector. I have learnt so many lessons. I have been naïve and placed trust in people that I shouldn’t have – people I thought were better qualified and more knowledgeable when I should have trusted my intuition and my own skillset. It was the hardest lesson and one that I hope to never repeat.
True friends are amazing and breaks away with family friends are essential in a busy working life. My friends and I plan a break away at regular intervals to have fun and laugh. They have been by my side at the worst of times and the best of times.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Focus on the present. Nothing in life lasts forever so enjoy every moment. I still find it hard to do that!
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Accomplish, commitment, envision.
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