July 2012

The know zone

  • Water-tight contracts
    Along with greater freedom and independence, schools also now have the huge responsibility of procuring the services of reliable contractors. Schools and colleges need to have their wits about them as Richard Bird explains More
  • Rate of return
    How do you convert time into money? Sam Ellis explains the many complexities of this question and looks at how schools can get value for money when deploying their staff. More
  • Lead vocals
    Quotes from Michael Jordan, Michaelangelo, Audrey Hepburn, Carl Sagan and Thomas Fuller More
  • Fame academy
    Vic Goddard is principal of Passmores Academy in Harlow, which is the school featured in Channel 4’s BAFTA-nominated documentary series, Educating Essex. More
  • Summing up
    Aviva’s Paying for It scheme gets students thinking about finances – their own and the nation’s. More
  • Adding value
    ASCL members can save money More
  • Fishing for staff?
    What is the most effective way to recruit and retain the best graduates as teachers? The parliamentary Education Select Committee has put forward its own ideas, ranging from higher pay and performance bonuses to sabbatical scholarships and a Royal College of Teaching. Here, leaders share their own views. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Exams: Double the trouble? and Are exclusions a 'fine' thing More
  • A slippery slope?
    Struggling schools need the best heads to turn them around. But the fear of being sacked if they do not succeed quickly is deterring outstanding leaders from taking on these tough roles and undermining attempts to tackle social mobility, says Brian Lightman. More
  • Skirting the issue
    Long-serving heads will have particular targets in mind as retirement approaches. Going before you’re pushed is clearly crucial. After that, it’s all about the legacy you will leave, says Dennis Richards. More
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Vic Goddard is principal of Passmores Academy in Harlow, which is the school featured in Channel 4’s BAFTA-nominated documentary series, Educating Essex.

Fame academy

Do people stop you in the street now you’ve been on TV ?

I think every teacher goes through this without being on TV. When you bump into parents in the supermarket there’s always the presumption that you know them. Now I have people saying “Hello Mr Goddard” whom I have never met before. It’s been a very, very surreal few months.

What sort of schoolboy were you ?

I was one of the frustrating boys that I see in my school now who make teachers roll their eyes. I took maths a year early and I remember my O level maths teacher phoning me up and saying, “Not that you deserve it but you got an A.” So I was quite bright but, unfortunately, not very good at applying myself.

What happened when the call came through from Channel 4 suggesting the series ?

The director said they were making a programme about what it is like being a teenager in the 21st century and my gut instinct was to say no. But the previous year we’d had some tough times, in particular the death of one of our year 10 boys. Throughout, my mantra to the kids had been: “Take your opportunities; don’t just say no to things because they’re a bit scary.” So when the phone call came through, the last thing I could do was say, “No, go away.”

Did you regret it at any point ?

The 24 hours after the first episode went out were dark. One paper wrote an online article saying some quite hideous things about the children, and then one of their reporters turned up on the doorstep asking for an interview. He said: “It’s good for your reputation.” And at that point my head exploded. I said, “Have you seen your newspaper today? And what it’s doing for my reputation and what it’s saying about my children?”

I had to make a decision whether I stood by what was said on telly or whether I was going to let a group of people with an agenda stop me. By the time I got home, I’d got it clear in my head but certainly that first 24 hours was quite difficult.

I did go into it in a naïve way. I didn’t expect anybody other than my mum to watch it, to be honest.

Is it true you were confused with Vic Godard, the singer from 70s punk band Subway Sect?

I did the Clive Anderson show on Radio 4 and there are always autograph hunters on the day. When I came out of Broadcasting House, a man came up to me and went, “Is this you?” and held up a picture of Vic Godard from Subway Sect.

I said, “Actually, that Godard is spelt with only one D, mine has two. I’m sorry. I’m a really dull headteacher and I can’t say I’ve been in any famous band.” I’ve never seen anybody look quite so crestfallen. He’d come all the way from Norwich. 

  • Interview by John Holt and Julie Nightingale


Do you know an ASCL member with an unusual story, interesting background optional achievement to share? If you’d like to recommend someone else or yourself to appear in a future profile, email leader@ascl.org.uk

Vic Goddard