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Boldly going in as innovative leader

School leaders need TLC too, according to the new president of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru.

One of John Evans's presidential-year projects will be to lobby the Assembly government for more funding to ensure the country's heads - some of whom teach 80 per cent of the week - have more quality leadership time.

"If a head spends that much time teaching, it is hard for them to be a strategic school leader," he says.

Mr Evans, 53, believes that innovation is essential in teaching. He favours the bold educational changes in Wales, including the abolition of national tests for 11 and 14-year-olds, and the Welsh baccalaureate pilots.

"I think we will see a big difference in how our children learn as they are guided through the learning process, rather than being forced through it in a straitjacket."

Mr Evans, a fluent Welsh speaker, grew up in the west Wales village of Trelech, and went to the village school. He qualified as a teacher in Swansea, and first worked in a deprived area near Worksop in Nottinghamshire.

"Unemployment was running at about 75 per cent. In many cases the children wore torn clothes and battered shoes, and you felt they were coming to school without having had a proper breakfast."

The situation was mirrored in his next post in Aberdare. A move to Ely followed in 1975, another deprived area, where Mr Evans helped set up the Ely Festival. And in 1987 he took up the headship of Marlborough junior school in Cardiff.

Iwan Guy, acting director of NAHT Cymru, describes Mr Evans as an astute thinker. "John never loses sight of the pupils and their needs," he says.

Mr Evans says: "I feel fortunate to still have the enthusiasm and the energy to be innovative. I haven't lost the buzz that teaching brings, nor the drive to make things better for staff and pupils."

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