Day in the life - Terry Hedger

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

As head of an international school, my biggest challenge is the high student turnover - about 20 per cent a year. Our parents are often posted to London on short contracts, so that means lots of comings and goings.

This morning I met a Japanese girl who's joining Year 9. Her English is better than I'd been led to believe. Great news, but I'll now have to shuffle her classes and renegotiate with the English as an additional language teacher contracted to give her extra tuition. It will take two to three hours of my time.

On the plus side, I rarely have to spend time on disciplinary matters. We run a relaxed school, which is a wonderful melting pot of cultures and attitudes. There are no bells, no published rules, and pupils are allowed mobiles, so I can text them if I need to.

Most of them call me Mr Hedger or Mr H, but one lad calls me Terry. At lunch, they're allowed out to shops. Today, I take a stroll round the neighbourhood to check everything's in order.

In the afternoon, it's back to my office. Next week we're staging a mock United Nations summit with Years 9 to 11, on the same day that we've a speaker from the US coming in to talk to Years 12 and 13. My job is to say yes to everything, then try to prevent chaos.

After school, there's a meeting of the Education Board. Southbank is actually three schools, each with its own head. The leadership team is a committee made up of the different heads, a school founder, and the marketing and admissions directors. It's an unusual way to run a school, but it seems to work: our average international baccalaureate score is 35 points per student - equivalent to 4.5 grade As at A-level.

At the end of the day, I catch the Tube home to Hillingdon in north-west London. I became head here in 2006, after 26 years working in Jamaica, Spain and the Cayman Islands. Becoming a commuter for the first time in my life, at the age of nearly 60, has been strange to say the least.

Terry Hedger was talking to Steven Hastings.

Terry Hedger is head of Southbank International School in Westminster, London.

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