Wednesday, 16 April 2014

My most inspirational colleague

I've had great pleasure in working with some exceptional individuals during my teaching career thus far. My first head of department, Simon Chapman, at Warwick took mentoring seriously and had all of the qualities I outlined in my earlier post on good mentoring. At Uppingham too there were some exceptional individuals - I've always had particular admiration for people who display metronomic efficiency and Martin Priestley, now head at the Leys School in Cambridge definitely fell into the category. I had the pleasure of working under him for two years whilst I was a tutor in one of Uppingham's boarding houses.

Perhaps this is cheating because we've never been colleagues as such, but the reason I got into this game in the first place was in large part because of two of my geography teachers at school: Mel Mrowiec and David Elleray. They were both masters of their subject, had a deep understanding of the way teenagers work and, almost by osmosis, gave me a way of working that has stuck with me to this day.

I doubt there is anyone who has had the pleasure of working with Douglas Robb who hasn't been swept away by this larger-than-life character. I worked for him as his Deputy whilst he was at Oswestry School and learnt a huge amount from him. He exuded self-belief and managed to effect huge changes in a very short space of time.

Either consciously or unconsciously he followed to the letter this advice from @AntonySeldon which was posted recently on Twitter by @independenthead:

I link here to a post containing the text of a speech I made on Douglas's departure from Oswestry so that you can get a flavour of the man.

Finally, although we had very few personal exchanges - he appointed me, nodded to me as we passed in the quad, promoted me to housemaster and chaired a many of the meetings I attended over the years - Stephen Winkley was, without doubt, the most inspirational colleague I have worked with. Though we were different in so many ways - not least because he hated exercise and never responded to e-mails - there is no doubt that he had something magic about him. I tried to explain what it was shortly after he died in this post.