Personally speaking - I'm proud of the RAF and my headship'

1st October 2010 at 01:00
Ray McGovern was a technician in the RAF before training as a teacher. He has been head of Sexey's School, a state boarding school in Somerset, since 2008 and is chairman of the State Boarding Schools' Association

Who has been your biggest influence?

My parents. My mother returned to learning to study to be a nurse. I was always extremely proud and impressed by her determination. My father taught me the values of respect for people, money and work.

What is your career high so far?

I fulfilled a childhood ambition when I joined the Royal Air Force - I was so proud when my parents came to RAF Swinderby for my passing out parade. Likewise, when I received my MA in education from the Open University my mother travelled from Glasgow to Cardiff for the graduation ceremony. Of course, the other high that sits alongside these occasions was being appointed headmaster of Sexey's: it is a humbling experience to be invited to take up such a sought-after and honoured position.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

When I became a housemaster of a girls' boarding house the very first duty I had was to inform all the girls in the house that one of their friends had collapsed and died at the end of the previous term. Subsequently, I have had to break similar news to pupils and parents and it is never easy.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

My father had three sayings that have always stuck with me: "Be careful whose fingers you stand on on your way up the ladder because you may meet the same people on the way back down"; "If you can't pay you can't go" and "The job is never finished till the tidying up is done."

What is the most outrageous thing a colleague has done?

Wear nothing but a loin cloth on the school stage. Mr Francis may have been playing Dobby in the staff panto but one should always retain one's dignity.

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

I would really have loved to become a pathologist. I am fascinated by human biology.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

As I work in a boarding school, I generally get ready for Saturday morning boarding interviews. However, Saturday night is always curry night. Nothing beats a chicken pathia.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

"I left it in the dog basket." This was a genuine excuse. The piece of homework had fallen into the dog basket and the child dare not remove it for fear of the dog biting them.

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