At a recent P&F meeting, I was asked if I would tell the community a little about myself. This feels highly egotistical, but, with that request in mind, I thought I might share some answers to the questions the students have been asking me.
1. Where are you from? Well, England, originally (specifically, Buckinghamshire.) However, since leaving University I’ve lived and worked in various schools and Universities in England, Scotland, Japan and, most recently on the Gold Coast, where for the last seven years I have had the privilege of being Principal of Emmanuel and setting up Emmanuel’s ‘baby sister,’ Josiah College.
2. What did you do in those other schools, and were the boarding schools like Hogwarts? I began as a High School English Teacher, then became a Housemaster (who still taught English.) After that I became a Head of English and something called a “Director of International and Spiritual Citizenship” which is a bit like a Deputy/Chaplain in charge of student wellbeing and citizenship learning. Then, briefly, I was a deputy Principal in Bath, before being invited to take up the role at Emmanuel.
But no teacher in a boarding school ‘just’ teaches, so I also ran scuba and lifesaving clubs, coached sports, and ran activities like the Model United Nations and Amnesty International clubs.
And yes, some of those schools were a bit like Hogwarts. One (King Edward’s School Witley) had its own train, and a staff member called the Beadle who sometimes wore an Elizabethan uniform and carried a Mace. Meanwhile the one in Scotland had secret passages (where Priests used to hide in the 17th century) and was reputedly home to the so-called “Wizard of Gordonstoun.”
3. Tell us about your family/pets/favourite EPL football team. I have a wonderful wife, Helen, who has also been a Head (her background is in psychology,) and two children – Josh, who is (very nearly) 30 and works as a “Genius” for Apple, and Lauren who is 28 and works as Policy Analyser/Writer for the New Zealand Government. We also have a cat – Florence. And I’m a life-long Aston Villa supporter.
4. Where did you go to University, and what did you study? I first went to Kingston University, in London, where I studied English and Philosophy (or, technically, the History of Ideas) to Honours level. Then I took my Post-Grad in Education at the University of East Anglia, before completing my Masters through the Open University and undertaking research with the University of Gloucestershire
5. What’s your favourite music? I have a very broad taste in music, but if I could only pick five artists, then I’d have to say: Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel (including his first band, Genesis,) Burning Spear (I love reggae) and probably The Clash … or David Bowie… or maybe Mogwai … or Radiohead … or maybe even some classical music …
6. What about books? That’s even harder than music, but if I were marooned on a desert island, I like to have the Winnie the Pooh books, some books by P. G. Wodehouse, a good set of detective novels (maybe the Morse books) something “difficult” like James Joyce, and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series
7. And do you have any hobbies? Well, obviously, reading and listening to music, but I also love birdwatching, hiking, scuba diving … and I’m trying to teach myself to cook and draw (not at the same time!)
8. Finally – some quick-fire questions:
– Favourite food – cake (or maybe toast with a good, bitter marmalade)
– Favourite colour – that’s complicated, because I’m colour-blind, but I think it’s blue (or purple, or greyish-pink!)
– Favourite drink – tea (Assam, with a splash of milk – “the colour of cardboard,” as my Grandma used to say.)
– Australia or England? Well, I miss England, but I prefer Australia
– NRL or AFL? NRL
– Sydney or Melbourne? Brisbane
– And what is your favourite saying/piece of wisdom – either “Love starts when we push aside our ego and make room for someone else” (Rudolf Steiner) or “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (St. Paul) or “Don’t Panic” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)