Article by Amy Ferrah and Luan Leer. Edited by Ellie Taylor.
What is the favourite part of your job?
Doing what I’m doing right now, talking to you two. I like being in lessons. I used to really like teaching. I like talking to students, I like talking to staff and hearing about what they’re doing, exciting things they are planning to do. I like walking round the site and looking at all the improvements we’ve made in the school over the last few years. I enjoy working with the student council and I really like working with the senior prefects this year, they are a fantastic, fantastic group of prefects. The Head Boy and Head Girl are excellent. I don’t think there are many things I don’t really like doing. Every day I come in and it’s always different.
What do you do in your spare time?
I rest! I rest from the rigours of work! I go sailing but I charter yachts, I don’t own one. I would say I go skiing - I haven’t been for a couple of years but I really like skiing. I like sea kayaking - I’ve been doing that since I was about 5 years old, a long, long time. I used to be a competitive canoeist. I used to do races and things but I think those days have gone now. And also I enjoy hill walking or just walking generally. I particularly enjoy going up to the mountains, going up to North Wales in half term. I used to do a lot of climbing, I’d like to do more.
I’d say most weekends we go walking at least one day, or kayaking or if not surfing. My main surfing buddy is my youngest son who’s just gone off to Indonesia for 6 weeks surfing and then to Australia for 3 months, so the person who used to phone me up and say, “come on dad, lets go surfing. Get yourself organized,” is no longer there. I can feel the surfing slipping away at the moment.
What is it like having a PA?
Very helpful, I don’t think I’d manage without one. There is someone there who takes phone calls; organises my diary and calendar; tells me where I’m supposed to be and who I‘m supposed to be meeting that day and makes sure I’m prepared and that I have the right papers.
I do my own emails and I can word process and things, its not as if I need someone to take dictation like a secretary at all, its actually an organisational role – a bit like having a parent. You get organised by a very efficient parent, its someone who organises me and makes sure I’m going to be in the right place at the right time with the right piece of paper in my hand. Everybody should have one!
What do you think of the new canteen?
What’s interesting is that more and more of the staff are eating in there which they never used to d. I think that’s a sign they feel comfortable, that it’s a nice place. I love going in there. I think its fantastic. I didn’t want it to feel like a school, but more like if you were going into a big department store and you go and eat out somewhere. I wanted to create more of that feel, so it’s a much more grown up adult environment, one that just didn’t feel like a school canteen. Interestingly, takings have gone up - we have had more people eating and fewer people having sandwiches now already.
What do you plan on changing about the school?
Next we’ve got the 6 classroom block, and we’ve still got some outside classrooms to improve-the English ones, so I want to get those sorted, but probably the biggest priority for the next couple of years is looking at sports facilities. I think that’s the next area to focus on-the sports hall especially getting the floor sorted out. We’ve got some thoughts about what we could do with the gym and if we could afford it. We would still really like to get in a weights room or fitness room, some static machines you could practise on. And talking to the Student council they are very keen on that as well, students would like it and the staff here would like it as well - if we could do that they’d want to use it as well. That’s still all there - finding the money for that isn’t going to be easy because that‘s a really expensive thing to do. Beyond that I still want to refurbish some parts of the school which are ok but not fantastic. You can see what we can do in the Core, what we can do in the canteen I want to take that standard across the rest of the school. I suppose that’s the big goal.
What is your opinion on the new Core?
Fantastic, it’s great, like a university. If you go to Truro College or St Austell College … any of the colleges particularly the ones who do HE you will see break out spaces just like the Core with extra books and IT. It’s quite an adult feeling; it doesn’t really feel like a school. And that’s the look I want for the whole school. I’d like you to come in and imagine you’re at work. If you think of the standard of a modern office, nicely laid out, open plan, nice furniture and well lit. That’s a good working environment. You can do homework – or you can do other things if you want to but homework has to be a priority. I wanted it to be a student space; I wanted the students to own it. Teachers can’t hold meetings in the school day for example, students own it; it is their space. They are the first priority – what you want and how you want it to be.
What do you think of the students taking over the magazine?
I wanted that to happen, I thought if we do it it’ll be something the school’s done. I thought the fact that you owned it would make it more interesting to read for other students and parents as well, and for me , it will give me an insight into what you think. It might not be as slick (although I have high expectations) – but it shows where Penrice is at the moment