Personally speaking - 'Stay cool, hang loose, admit nothing'

9th April 2010 at 01:00

Who has been your biggest influence?

Kevin Griffiths, the previous headteacher here, for his total focus on the pupils and complete dedication to the development of the school.

What is your career high?

Achieving our latest Ofsted "outstanding". When I took over the head's role in 2007 we had just achieved outstanding so it was very daunting, and the idea that we could sustain it seemed almost impossible.

What was your worst moment in teaching?

The worst moments have to be when pupils die. Since becoming head, three children have passed away, and in each case it's a dreadful loss for their family and the school.

Who is your most famous pupil?

Probably Hope Powell, who was at Abbey Wood School in southeast London when I worked there. She's the coach for the England women's football team now. I didn't teach her but remember being stunned by her football skills.

What is your worst field-trip experience?

I was working at the local FE college in Banbury and was asked to join a group for a week's outward bound trip in Wales. I met up with another chap who I assumed was the group leader, but it turned out that he was just coming along to complete his Mountain Leadership Certificate. Neither of us had ever met the students, and there were no school staff on the trip. I learnt a lot that week.

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Stay cool, hang loose, admit nothing. That was the text on a funky postcard I sent people for Christmas years ago.

The most outrageous thing you ever saw a colleague do?

I couldn't possibly answer that, but for the colleague I'm thinking of, the word Marmite maybe rings a bell.

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

A lot less happy.

What was the last book you read?

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

What do you do on a Friday evening?

Watch The Simpsons. And slump.

- Interview by Jo Faragher

Sean O'Sullivan is headteacher at Frank Wise School in Banbury, Oxfordshire, where he has worked for the past 24 years. The school caters for pupils with severe or profound learning difficulties and has just been awarded its second consecutive 'outstanding' judgment by Ofsted.

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