Personally speaking - Little dear set off fire alarm for Ofsted'

25th February 2011 at 00:00

Who has been your biggest influence?

Janice Lea was a former headteacher and employer whose positive support and encouragement helped me reach for senior management. My father is another big influence on me. He taught me how to behave, treat people, be happy. I strive to walk in his footsteps.

What is your career high so far?

In September 2007, I took the headship of a failing school. Ofsted called after a month and we went into special measures. After a short mourning period, we knuckled down to hard work. It was a joyous and proud moment when, after 18 months, special measures were removed.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

A dark, icy-cold day during a visit from Ofsted. One little darling pushed the fire alarm button. Most pupils evacuated calmly until one screamed, "Fire!" and ran through the snow. Others began to panic. Children who had been doing PE in the hall were filing out without shoes on, in shorts ... some sobbing. The inspector shook his head and started scribbling furiously.

Which pupil are you most proud of?

Although it's a cliche, all of them. Working in challenging circumstances means that many children have to battle with so many issues before they come into school. To achieve anything is a real success.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Children are the only people who have a right to be in school; everyone else gets paid.

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

Teaching was not my first career choice and I started later than most, but since taking it up I have never looked back.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Friday evening is a dossy, relaxing evening with my partner, Joanne, who is also a headteacher.

What car do you drive?

A beaten-up old BMW. I have a real passion for classic Minis but stopped driving them to work when flames appeared through the dashboard.

What is the worst excuse you have ever heard?

A child said she couldn't do her homework because her mum had given birth to "giblets" - also known as triplets.

Giles Civil is headteacher of Welland Primary School in Peterborough.

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