Spotlight On: Mr Simon Tilley

Posted January 18, 2024 in Teacher Spotlights, The Wesleyan By Sophie Foster

Cabinet maker turned teacher, Mr Tilley has carved a fascinating career path to Wesley.


Did you always want to be a teacher?

I think it’s fair to say mine wasn’t the traditional route to teaching: At school, in England, I really enjoyed woodwork. So, after finishing university, I became a cabinet maker and made one-off pieces of furniture for six years. I love problem-solving, so designing around a client’s brief and then translating it into a unique piece of furniture was incredibly rewarding.

What led to the career change?

There is only a certain amount of boardroom tables you can make before you get bored. So, after reading a newspaper article about teaching, I retrained. I spent my first two years teaching in a London Comprehensive School before becoming the Design and Technology “Master” at Eton College for 16 years.

What brought you to Perth?

Rather bizarrely, during one of my school holidays, while I was still teaching at Eton, I got stuck in Perth when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted. I decided to make the most of the time and visited different Design and Technology departments in Perth to see what they were up to. Some years later, totally out of the blue, I received an email asking whether I would like to apply for a job at Hale School. A short hop, skip and jump saw me teaching at Hale for 10 years before taking on the Head of Technologies role at Wesley College.

If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would you share?

Firstly, try and enjoy everything that you do, and secondly, life is full of opportunities. The tricky bit is that the opportunities are not always obvious and sometimes you have to make an effort before they appear. I am always amazed, although I shouldn’t be by now, how often these appear through a random act of kindness or just helping people with no thought about what you might gain from it. You only come this way once, so make the most of every opportunity as they may take you places you never thought possible.

What would the students be surprised to find out about you?

While making furniture, I spent 1,050 hours constructing the G7 table that the world leaders sat around at the 1991 conference. It now resides in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London!


Mr Tilley is the Head of Learning Area (Technologies). This article was originally published in the Summer 2023 edition of The Wesleyan. To read more, click here.

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