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Personally speaking

'A pupil's murder was my worst moment'

'A pupil's murder was my worst moment'

Who has been your biggest influence?

Juan, my late husband, and my father, who was a GP, closely followed by my four sons.

What has been your career high?

Securing ChildLine when the charity joined with the NSPCC was one of my most rewarding achievements. Listening to the voices of children and young people and engaging directly with them has always been of huge importance to me.

What would you have been if you hadn't become a teacher?

A doctor or a public opinion market researcher.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

Hearing about the loss of one of my Year 7 pupils who was murdered by a stranger at home.

What was your worst field trip experience?

Thinking we may be lost in thick mist on the top of a snowy mountain in Snowdonia - as a geographer it was a great challenge to my map reading and compass skills.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

"Always have a restless search for improvement" - Sir Michael Barber, former chief government adviser on school standards.

Are you tech-savvy or a luddite?

From the early 1980s I was an ICT leader in schools but I'm still way behind my children.

What was the last book you read?

The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George's Life by Ffion Hague.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

The first thing I do is pour myself a glass of wine.

What car do you drive?

Golf Plus Diesel and sometimes my Mercedes SLK (I share my cars with my sons).

What is the worst excuse you have heard?

A sixth former said he was not working because it was a Friday. I said in riposte it was always Friday for him. We are still in touch and he has never forgotten this exchange.

Interview by Rieke Heine. Dame Mary Marsh is founding director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme for the third sector. The former chief executive of children's charity the NSPCC spent 20 years in teaching, 10 as a headteacher. www.cloresocialleadership.org.uk.

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