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Sir Chris Woodhead and my primary school

24 July 2015


From Mr Derek Dorey

Sir, — Unlike two of your correspondents (10 July), I was pleased to read the article by Canon Angela Tilby (Comment, 3 July) about Sir Christopher Woodhead. Yes, he was a controversial character in education, but he had a passion for ensuring that children received the best while in school. He was Chief Inspector of Schools at a time when we needed to review our practices. Although we were not always comfortable with what he had to say, he was right in his challenge of the profession.

I first met Chris when he was addressing a meeting of teachers in London. In his introduction to the meeting, I was very much taken aback by his saying that later in the day he would like to meet Mr Dorey of Selsdon Primary School. I wondered what I had done wrong, but he went on to say that my school was the one that he had attended as a primary-school pupil. From that day, he showed a great interest in the school. We had recently become a grant-maintained school, and were a large primary that would never be at the top of league tables. Our pupils ranged from very able to many with considerable special needs, physical disability, and children in care. Chris was very encouraging in all we did, visiting the school and opening a nursery.

He will, I am sure, be remembered as a significant person in the endeavour to raise standards in schools, and for that we should be grateful. It was with great sadness that we saw him suffer such a cruel disease in later life.


Retired headmaster of Selsdon
Primary School, Croydon
17 Bella View Gardens
Glastonbury BA6 9HQ

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