No peace for the committed

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Anyone who knows about the rigours of classroom teaching would agree that, at the end of their careers, all teachers deserve the right to a peaceful retirement.

But 56-year-old Anthony Hampton, who has devoted his professional life to "parallel jobs" as maths teacher and Conservative councillor in the Vale of Glamorgan, has other ideas.

After taking early retirement from teaching in the late 1990s, rather than devote more time to his hobbies of piano playing, local history and learning Greek (his wife, Margarita, was born in Greece) he has stepped up his involvement in local politics and education - culminating in his recent appointment as chairman of the Welsh Joint Education Committee.

Being thrust into this high-profile national post, after what Mr Hampton concedes have been "turbulent times" for the exams board, will be a real challenge, he says.

"We have had a very busy summer, with our highest-ever examination entries and also the largest number of participants in our youth arts activities.

"We are leading on several important developments, including the Welsh baccalaureate, the National Grid for Learning and Welsh for Adults, which each have major contributions to make to learning opportunities in Wales."

After a bumper year for the limited company and charity - when profits rose 36-fold to pound;1.24 million - the WJEC is also preparing to be a lead authority in Tomlinson's 14-19 proposals, to be announced in two weeks.

Mr Hampton acknowledges the board has been through some difficulties, particularly criticisms arising from the Clywch inquiry into sex abuse, and the spending fiasco that forced the board to pay back European Union grants.

But with these issues apparently resolved, "the main challenges are maintaining and enhancing our role as a first-class awarding body and provider of examinations", he says, including continued expansion in England and Northern Ireland.

In the short term, one of his first jobs will be to secure up to pound;5m funding and planning permission from the Welsh Assembly to redevelop the board's Cardiff headquarters, on the site of the old Television Wales in the West (TWW) studios, into state-of-the-art offices.

But the challenge does not faze him. "They say if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. I am definitely a busy person - and I like to get things done."

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