Meet the head at Bishop’s Stortford College

Essex Life, 21.07.15, HMC member Jeremy Gladwin, Headmaster of Bishop’s Stortford College, gave up the idea of studying to be a barrister in favour of geography and teaching.

As he says, he still wears the black gown, but hasn’t yet needed a wig

If you hadn’t become a teacher, what career would you have chosen instead?

I intended to be a barrister as a result of being entranced by an armed robbery trial I witnessed at the Old Bailey. But I loved teaching so much that prior to starting at Durham I arranged to change degrees from law to geography in order to be able to share my love of geography.

Who would you most like to have as a pupil, if you could pick anyone?

A future Nobel Prize winner. It would be wonderful to have made some small contribution to the education of such a person and to have such a role model for current pupils to aspire to.

Was there any type of school dinner that you couldn’t stand?

This would have to be either gristly meat (a staple of 1960s/70s school food) or tapioca — we called it frogspawn.

What was your least favourite lesson?

Either Latin or physics. Latin because my teacher, who I was scared of, used to hold a heavy tome above my head and hit me with it if I declined my verbs incorrectly. Physics, because I changed schools at the difficult age of 14, only to be placed in top sets for science. I never really caught up on physics and therefore disliked it.

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would be the first thing you’d do?

I’d instruct the Education Secretary to halve the pace of change in GCSE and A Level to allow one to bed in before changing the other — and this in proper consultation with the profession.

Which record would you want with you if you were marooned on a desert island?

I am a former cathedral chorister (Worcester) and love sacred choral music. My favourite is Vierne’s Messe Solonelle. For that chill-out moment, it has to be the slow movement of Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto — it’s simply sublime.

Is there a television programme that you make sure you never miss?

That would have to be Mock the Week. It’s a great laugh and I just love the voice-overs done by Hugh Dennis, such as the Duke of Edinburgh in non-PC mode.

What is your favourite film of all time and why?

I don’t have a favourite, I like so many different genres. The most powerful film I have seen has to be Schindler’s List.

How do you relax away from work?

I try and go once a week to Evensong at St John’s College, Cambridge. This is ‘me’ time, time out from the hustle and bustle of the busy life of a big school. Sometimes I just fall asleep; other times I just drift away to another place listening to what must be one of the best choirs in the country.

What is special about your school?

Bishop’s Stortford College is the most wonderful community of adults and children from the age of four upwards. The children are so purposeful and successful without ever displaying a hint of arrogance. People really care for one another, whether staff or pupils, and this is quite simply the happiest school I have been associated with. It is my great privilege to lead the three schools — Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior School — that comprise Bishop’s Stortford College.

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