Panache enters world of grey suits;Profile;Liz Paver

23rd May 1997 at 01:00
Liz Paver should be an ideal president for a union enjoying its 100th birthday - for she loves parties and talks about the issues most other heads would rather avoid.

As vice-president of the National Association of Head Teachers, she has spoken frankly about the problem of drugs among primary pupils and the violent behaviour of young children and their parents.

Her aim will be to keep the profile of the NAHT high in its centenary year. Her chosen theme is Celebrating Success and she intends to promote all that is good in the nation's schools.

Mrs Paver is a flamboyant 52-year-old who is hoping to inject a little glamour in the normally, grey-suited world of headteachers. She will choose the outfits she wears to represent the NAHT carefully.

She is head at Intake primary school, which takes children from three to eleven in Doncaster. It is her third headship in an area she has great fondness for. She found herself deeply involved with the community during her last job at a school near the Selby coalfield during the miners' strike.

She says her educational philosophy has drawn from her experience within Doncaster local education authority and its innovations dating from the early 1950s. She hopes a Labour Government will find a new vital role for LEAs.

She has seen the head's role change drastically in the 21 years she has been in charge - with local management of schools, the increase in power of governing bodies and the introduction of the national curriculum. But she still sees her strength at school level in dealing with the day-to-day problems of children.

A member of the General Synod, she is deeply religious, and her strong moral view of the world extends to her young charges. She believes children quickly learn right from wrong and can be taught from encouragement. Every child feels free to grasp her hand in the corridor or knock on her door to discuss their problems and tell their news. Those who try their best can expect a star, those who misbehave can expect a cold shoulder of disappointment from the head.

Last year Mrs Paver was dragged along the road by a car driven by a mother whose girl had been injured in a playground accident. She lost a front tooth and suffered severe grazing to her arms and legs. At the union's last conference she told the tale as an example of how many heads have to deal with violence from parents. The subsequent press coverage gave her a few problems, but she says it will not deter her from flagging up vital issues.

"Heads have to have the courage of their convictions and should be supported and reported in a way to find a solution to the troubles and stresses schools find themself in."

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