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Writing my Book: How to Succeed in Secondary School – a Practical Guide by Tony Bellew

Writing.ie | Magazine | Tell Your Own Story | Writing & Me
How to Succeed in Secondary School

Tony Bellew

The origins of my book go back to when I was a young Teacher back in the early 1970s. While I had no intention of writing a book back then, the thought processes behind it began. The decision to write the book came much later.

In the early years of my teaching career, I regularly had more than 30 Students in my Class Groups. My teaching subjects were Accounting, Economics and Business. I remember worrying about Students who were struggling with getting their homework done. I would have loved to had time to listen to each Student on a one-to-one basis about what was going on and to support them in whatever way that I could. There was never time to do this as we were so busy covering the course in each subject. I vividly remember thinking that I would do something about it when I retired many years later.

Roll on nearly 40 years. I retired as Principal of St. Brendan’s College, Bray (now Woodbrook College) in 2009 and set up my one-to-one mentoring service for secondary school students. At this point, I still hadn’t decided to write a book. In fact, it had never crossed my mind. Over the last 13 years, I have worked closely with nearly 200 students in an intense way. I mentored each student over a year with a minimum of 5 meetings followed up with a comprehensive report on each session. There was a huge amount of listening on my part. I made notes on all the information they gave me. Parents attended meetings in a lot of cases. I was getting very positive feedback on my service from day 1. Over the first few years, a number of parents recommended that I should put all my thoughts together in a book. Members of my family had been saying this to me as well. I was reluctant to do this at first but eventually agreed to give it a go. This was in 2012!

Tony BellewInitially, I just wrote my thoughts down in a loose kind of way. After a while, I noticed that I was building up a lot of content. I decided that it was time to abandon the pen and enter all the information on my laptop. By 2015, I had the bones of the book together in a very rough way in typed form. It was now time to be thinking of a Publisher. I had no idea how to go about this so I sought advice. Close members of my family were very helpful here and very encouraging. They believed in me and wanted to see it happen. They said that they would make enquiries and come back to me with a plan. In the meantime, I continued working at my mentoring service and accumulating information. I wasn’t aware that there was still a long road ahead.

I began looking at bringing structure to all the information I had accumulated. I went to my local library and looked through a variety of books for ideas about layout. Based on the information I got there, I brought more order to what I had written but knew that there was still a lot of work to be done. With the help of members of my family, a few meetings were set up with Educational Publishing Companies. They all really liked my book but each said that they couldn’t publish it because it isn’t curriculum based. So, the search went on! Again, with the help of family members, a meeting was set up with Orpen Press in September 2019. Following that meeting, they contacted me to say that they wanted to publish my book. I was really pleased about this as the missing link was then in place. I knew that I would be provided with a service second to none as they have a great reputation in the publishing area. And that is exactly what I received!

The journey had still a way to go so I continued tipping away at the book. I had much more confidence as I was working closely with Eileen O’Brien the senior editor with Orpen Press. It was great to have her experience and expertise to guide me. When I thought we were nearly there, along came COVID! Like with everything in our lives, it totally disrupted the final plans to publish my book. However, I was assured that it was only a postponement and that it would still happen. What it did do was to present something I had to address in the book – Coping in a Crisis. We eventually did get it over the line when it was published in August ‘22. I have to say that Orpen Press have been excellent in every way up to getting it out there in all good bookshops throughout the country.

The whole process has been a real learning curve for me. I had really no idea what was ahead of me when I started the process. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Family & Friends and, of course, Orpen Press. I have to be honest and say that I am really pleased with the finished product. I was excited but nervous as it was being distributed to all good bookshops around the country. The very positive feedback I have received to date has made the whole experience very worthwhile!

(c) Tony Bellew

How to Succeed in Secondary SchoolAbout How to Succeed in Secondary School – a Practical Guide

With a strong emphasis on ensuring a balanced approach to study and developing your own personalised study approach, How to Succeed in Secondary School is an essential guide for all secondary school students, not just those in Sixth Year, and will also prove useful for students in other academic settings.

It looks at all aspects of a Student’s life in relation to them realising their potential in examinations. Key areas focused on are :

Bringing real structure to their lives outside of School – 3 Schedules of Work

The importance of Planning, trusting the Plan you have in place and committing to it

Overall Attitude to School and all matters relating to it.

Having a determination to achieve your Targets no matter what obstacles appear – ‘I will make it happen’.

How to make sure that the work you do is the best it can be at all times.

Breaking the School Year up into periods.

How to Monitor Progress and make sure that the plan is working.

How to realise one’s potential in examinations – becoming very familiar with all aspects of Exam Technique.

How to develop Real Confidence in your ability to succeed.

Strengths & Weaknesses – how to maintain strengths at a high level and how to become a little better in ‘weaker’ areas.

How to cope with Set-Backs.

How to sort Difficulties/Problems.

Getting the balance right between School Related Work and Leisure/Sporting/Family/Rest & Recovery Time.

Life through Sixth Year as seen by a Student – Case Study Situation.

Many Examples of Plans for Individual Students.

A number of Unique Features to help Students realise their potential.


And a lot more!

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Tony Bellew spent 38 years in St Brendan’s College, Woodbrook, Bray (now Woodbrook College), first as a teacher and then as principal. Education is his passion. Following his retirement from the school, he has spent the last thirteen years mentoring second-level students through his own coaching service, One2One Mentor.

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