'Pupils think I'm the Queen': heads hit dizzy heights of Who's Who

17th December 2010 at 00:00

For some, it is due reward for years of hard work. For others, it is elevation to monarch-like social status. And for others, it is just a little bit embarrassing.

This year, 17 headteachers from across Britain have been added to the latest edition of Who's Who, the doorstopping record of anyone who is unequivocally and undoubtedly someone.

In some cases, the book's editors are merely following where other selection committees have led: all new knights and dames are automatically included. Naila Zaffar, head of Copthorne Primary School in Bradford, is among them.

"I'm thrilled to bits," she said. "You think, 'Who am I to be in there?' You keep reading it, just to check that you're still there. Some of the younger children in the school think I'm the Queen now. When they go into the hall for assembly, they think they're going to see the Queen."

Other heads echo this sentiment, even if their social elevation stops somewhat short of the monarchy.

"My parents were from coal- mining stock in South Yorkshire," said Michael Roden, head of King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys in Birmingham. "I was the first person in my family to go to university. It just proves what education can do in terms of transforming people's lives."

In most cases, however, inclusion in the book's pages is recognition of position, rather than personal achievement. As incoming principal of the exclusive Gordonstoun school in Morayshire, for example, Simon Reid was immediately upgraded to a Who's Who somebody.

"In some respects, it is an honour," he said. "In others, it is faintly amusing. In most ways, it doesn't really make any difference. I'm not going to be hanging banners out the window."

Many of the book's new entrants agree. Mr Roden, in fact, accidentally threw away his invitation for inclusion. It was only when his PA asked whether he had filled in the form yet that he was forced to rummage around in the dustbin and retrieve it.

Others afforded their entry form even less thought. "I probably filled something in," mused Joe Davies, new head of Haileybury School in Hertfordshire. "But I am not sure."

Dame Naila intends to order one copy of the volume for her family home, and another for the school library. But most heads remain somewhat more equivocal.

"It was bad enough when a picture of me ran on the front page of the local newspaper," said Mr Roden. "I got enough stick about that from my wife. So, Who's Who? Oh, gosh."

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