St Davids College


Meet Mr Martin O'Leary

Published: 06.07.2021 ( 2 years ago )

Your first Headmaster at St David's College was one of the school’s founder, John Mayor, what was he like to work with?

I first came to St David's in 1985 and started officially in 1986. It was quite a bizarre introduction to be honest because during my interview for the job Mr Mayor suddenly out of nowhere threw a ball right at me!

I caught it, but nothing was said about it and the interview continued like nothing had happened. I think it was a thing that he did though, as Keith Lennard asked me afterward if a ball was thrown.

What is your background?

I left school at 16 and went to Chester to do a foundation course at Art College, but it turns out I wasn’t very keen on the art world. My life changed when one of the tutors asked me why was I wasting time on art as I wouldn’t make a penny out of it and suggested I become an engineer instead. To me, mechanical engineering is art anyway. I got an engineering apprenticeship and started to work on designing car parts, I worked in industry for a number of years, got myself really well qualified, and then trained to become a teacher.

What was St David's like when you first joined?

It was very different in those days the staff body were very close with each other, we were always going to each other’s houses at the weekend for dinner and so on. It was great.

My mentor was Mr Lennard who was a brilliant furniture maker and innovator, and he let me have the freedom to teach how I wanted to. The department had an excellent reputation even then and was forward-thinking. They supported me when I wanted to introduce CAD years before it became mainstream.

What is your proudest achievement as a teacher?

Driving the subject forward and introducing new technologies as and when they are released. In addition to our now established CAD curriculum, we have 3D printing and scanning facilities as well as the ability to manufacture directly from computer models by 3D printing, 3D machining, and laser cutting. We are also at the forefront of Virtual and Augmented reality.

I think it’s helping to guide and nurture the pupils to reach their potential.

It’s also preparing them for life by teaching them transferable skills.

Many of them come into the department having had knocks in their lives, but they’ve left full of confidence and gone on to have successful careers.

What is the secret to the DT department's success?

I think with Mr Jon Demery and Mr Sion Jones we’ve got a great team with a wealth of experience.

We like to bounce off each other and I think the subject we teach along with CAD is pretty interesting for young people as they can be as creative as they want and we give them the freedom to achieve. The department is open for the senior pupils whenever they want to come and they seem to like coming here

Tell us something that not many people know

I hold multiple blackbelts in martial arts and have practiced for 50 years. I haven’t forgotten my art roots and still love to paint. Also, in my teens, I used to spend my weekends dancing in Northern Soul clubs in Wigan and Blackpool. Literally all day and all night, adrenaline kept me going and they were brilliantly fun times.

If you would like to find out more about our amazing Design and Technology Department and the different options that are available to our students, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at