Personally speaking - 'Boring things are the most important'

22nd October 2010 at 01:00
Mark Emmerson is principal of the City Academy in Hackney, east London, which opened last September

Who has been your biggest influence?

Huw Salisbury OBE, my headteacher at a tough school near King's Cross (London), where I was deputy. He had real integrity and he wouldn't take any short cuts. He showed me that the most important things in teaching are the boring things. Good ideas come and go; it's about being there every day.

What is your career high so far?

Being appointed to Hackney Academy. It's been a great opportunity to develop the culture from day one.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

A white pupil had been murdered and some local youths thought - incorrectly - that a Bangladeshi pupil was responsible. One day, gangs of white kids started throwing bricks at our windows. The whole school emptied out on to the street and around 500 of our kids started chasing the gangs away. I had to jog up to the front to try and get them to turn around. It was my first week in the job.

What is the most outrageous thing a colleague has done?

I've got friends who get so bored during invigilation that they have competitions about different ways you can walk up and down the hall. They would pretend to be on a catwalk on America's Next Top Model.

What would you be if you hadn't become a teacher?

I always wanted to be an airline pilot, but I was colour blind so I couldn't.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

By about 10 o'clock on a Friday I'll have a glass of wine if I'm still up, and fall asleep in front of the television.

Where did you last go on holiday - and why?

I got married in August and went to Crete for my honeymoon.

Are you tech savvy or a Luddite?

I teach ICT, but I'm very functional, so I'll use what I need. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter - it's a waste of time.

What is the worst excuse you've ever heard?

At my last school, one pupil was seen scaling a fence at the back of the school. He stuck his fingers up at the teacher and jumped the fence, so he was suspended. His mother said he only did it because he was dyspraxic. If he was that dyspraxic, there's no way he could have climbed the fence.

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