Skip to main content

Culture vulture

Ruth Patterson stepped back from headship and found her perfect rhythm

New reading

I'm reading authors I haven't had time to read before: Philippa Gregory's historical novels; Robert Harris's Pompeii. That's gripping. And I read children's novels. Michael Morpurgo has a wonderful gift of language and I've read everything he's written. My favourite is Kensuke's Kingdom, but I also like his latest, Private Peaceful, set during the First World War.

Favourite music

I discovered music when I worked in a library at the age of 15 and found you could borrow scores of musicals. My piano teacher would say: "What have you brought to play to me this week?" And it would be Cole Porter (pictured) or Gershwin or Irving Berlin.

Back to the classroom

I became a head in 1988, at Chambersbury primary school in Hemel Hempstead, and left headship in 2001. I wanted to go back to the classroom; I told my current head I was applying for a support teacher's job in her school and she said, "you're joking". I loved being a head but I've got no regrets.

I'm discovering creative parts of me that have been dormant for a long time.

Conductor training

I did a foundation choral conducting course this summer with Sing for Pleasure, as the first step towards setting up a choir at school. Standing up and conducting other people was a nightmare at first - horrendous. But the tutors were very supportive and I felt my self-esteem grow.

Treats in store

I want to join a choir; maybe a chamber choir. That was something I looked forward to about stopping headship: to be a performer, not just an observer. I wrote a couple of musicals in the 1980s. One was about the Prodigal Son, set in a 1920s Chicago deli. My current head was wonderful. I said: "I've got this thing I wrote years ago," and she said: "Let's do it."

It was lovely to see it come alive again. I've got lots more scribbles I'm looking back at now. I'm at the beginning of a journey."

Ruth Patterson, 54, teaches at St Cuthbert Mayne RC junior school in Hemel Hempstead. She was talking to Karen Gold. See

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you