Sir Bob takes the biscuit

Biddy Passmore talks to the knighted headteacher of Garibaldi School following his meeting with the Queen

AS HEADTEACHERS go, Bob Salisbury has received a fair degree of public recognition.

The man who transformed Garibaldi School in Nottinghamshire from an institution loved by vandals and shunned by parents to a flourishing concern at the heart of a revived community has been visited by Prince Charles, praised by Sir John Harvey-Jones ("Bob Salisbury is my personal model of an educational troubleshooter") and, in 1997, he appeared with Peter Jay in a BBC2 election special.

He has written articles in The Times (and The TES of course) and, over the past six or seven years, has been increasingly in demand as a speaker on management on both the national and international stage.

On Tuesday came, if not the coup de grace, then certainly a light touch on both shoulders from the Queen when Sir Bob visited Buckingham Palace to receive his knighthood.

Sir Bob was one of the original "superheads" - but, unlike many of the more recent ones, he was not head-hunted for the post at Garibaldi.

After moving steadily up the professional ladder in five Nottinghamshire comprehensives and becoming a chief examiner for the Northern Board along the way, he applied for four local headships. Garibaldi was the first one to come up.

At that time, in 1989, the school was described by the education committee chairman as "within an inch of closure".

But Bob Salisbury thought "the youngsters looked OK, the staff seemed keen and the parents seemed supportive". He thought he might be able to do something quite quickly if he tried radical action. Where did he get his management ideas from?

"Almost all were from negative experience," he replies. He knew what had frustrated him in his previous schools and set about removing those obstacles at Garibaldi. He took out unnecessary layers of management and encouraged staff to take the initiative so that, like "bobbing corks", they could rise to the surface unimpeded.

Now 57, and nine years into the job, Bob Salisbury recognises that his time at Garibaldi is running to a close although it will be "a real wrench" when he finally leaves.

He chairs the North East Lincolnshire Education Action Zone and the regional Teaching Awards Panel and has many speaking engagements.

Now Bob Salisbury wants to build on his special lectureship at Nottingham University and work on implementing his management ideas on a wider canvas.

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