Talking Heads #9

Education PR

At GKP we are always on the lookout for the head teachers hitting the headlines. These are the stories from the last four weeks that really caught our eye.

The heads expressing their views on child walk outs over climate change:

“I don’t agree with pupils taking strike action as a protest against climate change. The cause is vital to humanity and I feel personal shame that my generation has allowed this crisis to happen on our watch. But a pupil strike is not the right approach. Each day’s learning is important for their life chances and their potential to go out and change the world. Schools are also in loco parentis and it is a concern if pupils are off site.” Richard Sheriff, head of Harrogate grammar

“I’d like to say yes, but I’m struggling. A school cannot authorise absence for this purpose. A parent can withdraw their child, but must be willing to accept the consequence of a fine. Headteachers rightly have safeguarding concerns for those who miss school yet whose whereabouts are unknown in uncoordinated events such as Friday’s marches. However, I believe peaceful, powerful protest has a valuable place in a civilised, democratic society; much good has historically come from it. Teenagers must be able to form, express and share their views. Adults need to listen to young people. They are voters of the future and dismissing or patronising their actions and views now may be something politicians later regret.” Caroline Barlow, head of Heathfield community college

“Many children rightly have a sense of urgency and they absolutely should have a voice.” “As the head of a Quaker school that takes its responsibility towards the environment seriously, I believe it is incumbent upon us to support the children of today in making their voices heard. What is education about? If we do not have a planet to live on, then there is not a lot of point in learning about Pythagoras or Shakespeare.” 8. Toby Spence, head of Sibford school

The deputy head’s case for teaching computing, lest children think they run by magic. “If our children and young people don’t know how the machines work, how can they design them to work better?” Susan Ward, Kingsland Primary School

The former high master on parent’s prerogative to support teaching of the overburdened curriculum. Martin Stephen, St Paul’s School and The Manchester Grammar

The head on starting careers education as early as possible, to help children make connections between subjects and prospective jobs. Matthew Burke, Westbury House School

The deputy head on the impact of a school building’s design on concentration, behaviour and learning. Antonia Berry, St Columba’s School

The head writing on mental health measures in schools during Children’s Mental Health week, after Molly Russell’s suicide. Suzie Longstaff, Putney High School

The assistant head advising on the sensitive issue of sexual images of students. Ceri Strokes, Kimbolton School

The head of one of the country’s most prestigious private schools reviewing a new social history on British private schools. Patrick Derham, Westminster School


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