Teachers and Tatler-friendly names sit side by side at last

24th July 2009 at 01:00
Among Debrett's stars and debutantes are heads and union leaders

Rapper Ms Dynamite is out. Naveen Andrews, star of the television series Lost, is in. GMTV presenter Kate Garraway is in. And so are 14 headteachers.

For years, Debrett's People of Today has pronounced on who has arrived socially, and consigned others to social purgatory. Jo Bryant, its spokeswoman, describes the book as "the 25,000 most influential and successful people in the UK. It's supposed to be a snapshot of those high achievers who are pre-eminent in their field."

The latest edition, published this week, has a new range of Tatler- friendly names. But among those making their debut are Patrick Derham, head of Rugby School, and the heads of 13 other predominantly independent schools.

Also included for the first time are Mick Brookes, general secretary of heads' union NAHT, John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, and Sir Alan Steer, the Government's behaviour adviser.

Ms Bryant argues that the selection process is less random than it might appear. "We have heads of leading state schools, top public and prep schools, and high-profile educationists," she said. "We look at league table performance, reputation, media profile, to decide who should be approached each year."

Entrants are only included with permission, so part of the process is left to fate. Some heads, for example, have a more ruthless attitude to unsolicited paperwork than others.

Ms Bryant insists that potential entrants are not judged by their ability to get into the right parties. "The aim is to be completely meritocratic and contemporary," she said. "It doesn't matter how much money or what social standing you have. It's purely based on achievement."

This is echoed by Martin Ward, Dr Dunford's deputy. "John is a very influential figure in the education world," he said. "Does he go to the right parties? If you're talking about hobnobbing with the great and the good, then probably not to the extent that an appearance in Debrett's might suggest. But he's well-respected and has a very deep understanding of the education system."

The flip side, of course, is the point at which the great and the good are deemed no longer great or good enough for inclusion. This year, those banished to the suburbs of success include Lisa Stansfield.

Ms Bryant said: "We have the facility to keep it very current. These are the people at the top of their profession at the moment."

Nonetheless, new education entrants are unlikely to be making the most of their fleeting social status by partying at Chinawhite until 3am. "John's very fond of his wine," said Mr Ward. "But we're talking about a glass or two of carefully selected vintage, not swilling huge amounts and falling out of a nightclub."


Mick Brookes - General secretary, NAHT union

Richard Cairns - Head and chief executive, Brighton College

Gino Carminati - Head, Worth School

Simon Davies - Head, Eastbourne College

Patrick Derham - Head, Rugby School

John Dunford - General secretary, ASCL union

Chris Edwards - Head, Bromsgrove School

Edward Elliott - Head, The Perse School, Cambridge

Magoo Giles - Founder and head, Knightsbridge School

Anita Griggs - Head, Falkner House, London

Robert Holroyd - Head, Repton School

Andrew Hunter - Head, Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh

Richard James - Head, St Mary's School, Shaftesbury

Caroline Jordan - Head, St George's School, Ascot

Patrick Mattar - Head, Norland Place School, London

John Moule - Head, Bedford School

Alan Steer - Behaviour adviser, DCSF.

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