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Competitive, but a 'people's person'

Judith Mullen's ambition is to manage Manchester City to the top of the Premier Division, but being president of the Secondary Heads Association will have do for now.

The motto for her presidency is "a learning culture for all" - appropriate for a woman who is also the warden of Melbourn Village College, a Cambridge- shire comprehensive community school open from 8am to 10.30pm, She also intends to raise the profile of the union, which she believes, under the new general secretaryship of John Dunford, will be pushed on to a bright future.

"I've said I'm available for weddings, funerals and barmitzvahs. But seriously, I think John Dunford is the sort of leader SHA needs at this time. And my intention during this year is to meet as many of our members as possible."

Judith Mullen is a PE specialist, has represented Lancashire and the North-west in netball and lacrosse and used to throw a mean javelin. It isn't too difficult to imagine her blowing her Acme Thunderer whistle.

She admits to being personally "horribly" competitive. "I couldn't see the point of putting my trainers on if I wasn't going to win," she said. However, she believes competitiveness within schools is undermining co-operation between heads and schools, and is harming children.

She said: "The race to succeed in the tables is sidelining the guidance curriculum. We keep hearing from employers that young people today don't have the interpersonal skills they require. We need time to focus on personal development."

Judith says her strength is with people: "I'm a people's person." A veteran SHA member described her as "warm and direct", and she said: "There is a place for being direct, but there is also a place for having a chat over a glass of wine."

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