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Personally speaking - 'I was broke so I trained to be a teacher'

Who has been your biggest influence?

John Nash (sponsor of the academy) and his wife Caroline (a governor) because of their high aspirations for pupils and the academy. Also, vice-principal Sian Maddrell is one of the most ethical people I have ever worked with and I have learnt a lot from her.

What is your career high so far?

There are two - both at Pimlico. Our GCSE exam results last summer went from 42 per cent achieving five A*-C grades including maths and English to 59 per cent. There were tears of joy that day. The second was last December when we achieved an "outstanding" judgment from Ofsted.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

I remember one boy who persisted in talking to me in a very authentic Irish accent although he was English.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

If I had to choose it would be a pupil called Yanna, who was very bright, hard-working and supportive. We went to Clarence House to do a presentation on history to Prince Charles and it was like she was standing in her living room - she spoke to him as if he was a long-lost family friend.

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

From the deputy here, Sian, that rigour and detail are what drives things forward - not gimmicks and random ideas.

What would you do if you hadn't become a teacher?

In Ireland to do the higher diploma in education you had to pay 200 old Irish pounds. It was the cheapest postgraduate course and I was absolutely broke. I remember going around and collecting my money in a bag. I never considered another career. However, my family and friends have said that I would make a good lawyer because I'm so argumentative.

If you could live in any period in history, when would it be?

It would be in 1918-1922 in Ireland for the war of independence and civil war. They were monumental periods in Irish history where the country came together and gained independence from the British rule.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

A child once told me that his dog had urinated on his homework - I was reluctant to see the evidence.

Jerry Collins is the principal of Pimlico Academy. He led it from special measures to an Ofsted judgment of 'outstanding'.

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