“What sort of example is this to set our children? Teachers call pupils ‘scumbags’ and the head flicks V-signs at his deputy in school praised as ‘outstanding’” So screamed the Daily Mail in September 2011 after seeing the first half of the first episode of Channel 4’s fly-on-the-classroom-wall documentary Educating Essex (they were excluded from the early screenings for being, well, the Daily Mail).
The subject of their ire was ‘worst headteacher in the country’ Vic Goddard.
Council-estate born and raised, Vic has worked his way up through the system from a PE teacher via Head of Department and a brief stint in Cairo, to being one of the most high profile, controversial, innovative and bluntly passionate heads we have met. And if you had seen Educating Essex (and not just read the story the Daily Mail made up based on half the show and a press
release) you will know that for yourself. Vic, a qualified and experienced Dive Master to boot, not only brings drive, creativity and innovation to the role, putting the children he so clearly cares for centre stage at every opportunity, he also brings the human touch to what he unashamedly describes as ‘his other family’.
In his own words, ‘If you saw the programme, you’ll recognise me, I’m the one crying’.
His passion for education – an education that refuses to accept limits in what young people and their teachers are capable of – is matched by his genuine zeal for educational leadership. ‘It’s the best job in the world’, he says (with such conviction that we are going to use it for the title of his forthcoming book to be published by the Independent Thinking Press).
He goes on to say, ‘Once I became hooked on teaching I realised that I wanted to be a head by 40 and on the golf course by 55’.
Since the airing of the BAFTA-winning TV show in the Autumn of 2011, Vic has been very much in demand, speaking to headteacher conferences such as the National College and the ASCL as well as talking to audiences of new teachers, encouraging them not only to embrace teaching as a profession but also have the ambition and drive to aim for headship.
In an era of super-heads with equally super-salaries, Vic has never been in it for anything other than making a difference to young people’s lives and, having visited his school in Harlow, we have seen the spirit of innovation and enterprise that he brings to make this happen on a daily basis.