The only reason he went to Washington, he says, was to learn from the experience of others in turning round difficult schools. More to the point, he didn't volunteer, he was invited because he has led the Fresh Start at Kingswood comprehensive (formerly Perronet Thompson) in Hull. He said: "If I never went outside of this school we wouldhave ended up with the same situation as in the old school, where no one did training or even ventured outside. I wasn't there for a holiday, but to give presentations."
In his absence, two of the 20 teachers who did not take jobs with the new school are thought to have contacted the press. The local freelance agency in Hull embellished the story with lavish descriptions of Hotel Washington and its pound;180-a-night rooms, but failed to mention that Mr Beaton was one of eight heads on the trip, courtesy of the Department for Education and Employment.