The lunch bell has sounded at Tanbridge House secondary school, and headteacher Jules White is brandishing a five-foot catapult in the doorway of his office. The New Statesman reports.
Teamed with his blue M&S suit, burgundy tie and black square specs, it’s an apt look for a man known as the rebel headmaster.
Rather than an unorthodox discipline measure, though, the stick belongs to a pupil with Asperger Syndrome who whittled it from a tree branch: one of the more unusual items confiscated from the 1,600-strong pupil population of this large comprehensive school in Horsham, west Sussex.
While driving home from school one Friday evening at around 6pm in 2015, White heard a local radio interview with a government figure insisting schools were receiving “more money than ever before” – a line still parroted by the Department for Education today.
White was so exercised he called the station. The following Monday he was on air, revealing the budget pressures his school was under – despite being rated “Outstanding”.
From that moment, White banded together with other secondary school heads in west Sussex – then the fourth-worst funded area in England for education – to take action.
Their first move was to send a joint open letter to a local paper, warning of “potentially catastrophic” funding pressures.
When they clicked send, the Worth Less? campaign against school cuts was born.
Worth Less? now has around 7,000 headteachers across nearly half of England’s local education authorities onside.
“We’re not going to be maverick,” he insists. “This isn’t just about having a random pop. We’re respectful and reasonable – we’re not saying everything is doom.”
Read more about his hopes for the future and Worth Less? “Schools are a fourth emergency service”: Meet the Rebel Headmaster fighting education cuts
Are you one of the 7,000 headteachers who have joined Worth Less? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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