Heads line up to be quizzed

24th December 2004 at 00:00
How well do you know headteachers, famous and infamous, factual and fictional? Jill Parkin asks the questions

Stranger than fiction

1 It's the string-bottomed bikini that sticks in the mind. Who bought it and who paid for it?

2 Bradford, 1986. They took to the streets but the head stuck to his guns. Who was he and whom did he have in his sights?

3 Dexter Hutt sounds like an Texan oil-rigger, but in fact he's a superhead. Why?

4 "There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame." Name a couple (educationally) nevertheless.

5 Good enough for the nobs, but not for the bog standard. Who knocked this year but wasn't let in?

6 "I never forget that I am selling education," said which famous head who died on a trip to Athens this year?

7 "When I was a head, I and my colleague heads would visit each other from time to time. It was a genial business, often involving sherry (we live in sterner times now)." Who's reminiscing?

8 It's 1828 and this head fancies fagging is the solution to discipline problems.

9 Jane Hattat, head of Lordswood girls' school in Birmingham, is planning to sue the Office for Standards in Education. Why?

10 "It's like boy scouts collecting badges. One has to ask what the educational value of it is." So from this year, Tony Little's pupils at Eton can do what?


1 "There was a moment of silence, then we all laid down our pens and began to stamp on the floor in unison. Crabby stayed where she was, on top of the cupboard, drumming her heels and weeping." How did she get up there?

2 Firm but fair Dr Herbert Henry Locke DD presided over a staff which included Henry Samuel Quelch and Paul Pontifex Prout. Name the school, its most famous pupil and where we read about them.

3 "Eric did not pretend to be asleep, but opened his eyes and looked at the headmaster. Very sorrowfully Dr Rowlands shook his head and went away. Eric never saw him again." Why?

4 "Girl number 20 possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals." Says who to whom in what book?

5 "We go upon the practical mode of teaching, Nickleby; the regular education system. C-l-e-a-n, clean, verb active, to make bright, to scour.

W-i-n, win, d-e-r, der, winder, a casement. When the boy knows this out of book, he goes and does it." Whose windows?

6 "I'll tell you what I am. I'm a tartar." Which head? (Clue: Dickens again. Well, it is Christmas.) 7 The headmistress of St Trinian's is not what she seems. What's unusual about the celluloid version of Millicent Fritton?

8 Celia Johnson finally kiboshes Maggie Smith, but immortality belongs to her adversary. Explain.

9 This head walks in on his Oxbridge class who are being taken through their French paces with an improvisation of a brothel scene.

10 Who ate a vomit-flavoured jellybean in his youth?


1 Colleen McCabe, the headteacher of St John Rigby college in south London, the former nun jailed for defrauding her school of up to pound;500,000.

She claimed that clothes bought with the school credit card were really for pupils' mock interviews.

2 Ray Honeyford, head of Drummond middle school, offended the multiculturalists by saying Asian pupils should make English their main language and Asian girls should be taught to swim whatever their parents'

objections. After a long time, a suspension, and a reinstatement, he resigned.

3 He turned around the failing Ninestiles in Birmingham, where GCSE results have improved tenfold. He did so well that they gave him another school to run as well.

4 A few to choose from: Dame Enid Bibby of Wood Green high school college of sport in the West Midlands; Dame Sharon Hollows of Calverton primary school in east London; Dame Jean Else of Whalley Range high school in Manchester; Dame Mavis Grant of Mary Trevelyan primary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. And so forth - more dames in education than in any other panto.

5 Tristram Jones-Parry, head of top public school Westminster, wanted to "give something back" by becoming a maths teacher in the state sector. The General Teaching Council for England, fearless, fair and foolish, said he wasn't qualified. Perhaps they have an army of maths teachers in a cupboard somewhere.

6 Heather Brigstocke, coalminer's daughter, classicist and renowned high mistress of St Paul's girls' school, London. She was killed, aged 74, in a road accident while in Athens on charity business. Baroness Brigstocke had spent the morning scrambling around the Acropolis.

7 Our very own Gerald Haigh, former head turned TES writer, and source of avuncular wisdom.

8 Dr Thomas Arnold of Rugby, and don't get the wrong idea - fagging was an early form of today's buddy system in which younger boys had to make toast for prefects and clean their boots. And if you think that's a bit rough, let me remind you that Arnold was a humanitarian reformer of the 19th-century public school system.

9 The Ofsted report on her school contained reviews of aspects of school life the inspectors hadn't witnessed. Odd, thought the head, and typed a few phrases into a search engine. She discovered two pages had been copied from a report on Parkside school in Bradford.

10 They can skip GCSEs and go straight on to AS-levels. Mr Little says a good curriculum should be about more than public examinations. Sometimes it seems the independent sector has borrowed the liberal garb of the last generation's state sector.

School stories - answers 1 Head of the village school in Laurie Lee's Cider With Rosie, she was lifted up there by the great red fists of 13-year-old Spadge, who should definitely have been at agricultural college by then: "The sight of him squeezed into his tiny desk was worse than a bullock in ballet shoes."

2 Lean and angular Quelch and pompous and portly Prout were both on the staff at Greyfriars, whose most famous pupil was Billy Bunter. Their doings were chronicled by Frank Richards (real name Charles Hamilton) in the boys'

paper The Magnet in the first half of the last century. These days the fat owl of the remove would be referred to the mental health service for his eating disorder.

3 Eric, or Little by Little is a Victorian morality tale by Dean Farrar, in which the lad slips slowly down the path to perdition, until, this very night, he runs away from his boarding school to sea. Finally, his conscience burdened with many things, including pub-crawling and the death of his mother, he does the honourable thing and dies.

4 Mr Gradgrind in Charles Dickens' Hard Times to poor old Sissy Jupe, who compounds her failure to define a horse as a graminivorous quadruped by confessing she is very fond of flowers.

5 This is the ghastly Wackford Squeers, head of Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby. Mr Squeers believes in vocational education, education, education.

6 Mr Creakle, at whose school - Salem House - the young David Copperfield is made to wear a sign saying: "Take care of him. He bites." Enough Dickens.

7 She's played by Alastair Sim in drag. The adaptable Alastair also plays Miss Fritton's brother, a dodgy character involved in a racing scam. For those who went to all-girls' schools there are times when memories of all headmistresses past merge into Alastair Sim.

8 Maggie plays the unforgettable Miss Jean Brodie in her prime. Dame Celia is merely the head who sacks her.

9 Alan Bennett's ambitious head in The History Boys, who employs a master of spin to get the boys noticed in their Oxbridge papers. Meantime, the subversive and sexually sad Hector undermines his efforts with his eclectic general studies lessons.

10 Albus Dumbledore who accordingly hesitates to accept a Bertie Bott's every-flavour bean in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. He succumbs to his sweet tooth only to find that this time he's chosen ear-wax flavour.

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