The Inspector Bites Back; Chris Woodhead Reveals What He Really Thinks of Labour's Education Policy and Speaks for the First Time about His Affair with a Student

By Levin, Angela | Daily Mail (London), March 7, 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Inspector Bites Back; Chris Woodhead Reveals What He Really Thinks of Labour's Education Policy and Speaks for the First Time about His Affair with a Student


Levin, Angela, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: ANGELA LEVIN

CHRIS WOODHEAD'S fall from his commanding position as Chief Inspector of Schools was dramatic. He resigned amid a firestorm of professional criticism and persistent allegations of sexual impropriety, serial womanising and being untruthful about the age of a young student he fell in love with.

But now - at 55 - Woodhead wants to put the record straight, and in doing so he takes a hefty swipe at Tony Blair, Education Secretary Estelle Morris and her predecessor David Blunkett and also reveals his close friendship with Prince Charles - as well as all about the women in his life.

A comfortable man he is not: bluntness brought him down, and it is bred in his bones.

Woodhead has always wanted schoolchildren to be taught to read, write and do sums. He doesn't like trendy teaching methods or headteachers who spend more time at conferences than in their school. He also believes useless teachers should be sacked. Since he has spent all his working life involved with education, his voice and opinions are well worth listening to.

These views turned him into a hate figure for some people in the educational establishment, particularly those who dislike his insistence on traditional teaching methods.

Eventually, it became too much of an uphill struggle even for Woodhead, whose chief hobby is rock climbing. He felt that he no longer wanted to support the Government, so he resigned as Chief Inspector a year ago.

He has now written a devastating book, Class War: The State Of British Education in which he expounds his theories on the education system. It will be serialised in the Mail next week.

His analysis is sharp, focused and sometimes terrifying. His solutions to the problems are radical.

Yet while his opinions on education seem sound and sensible, the same cannot always be said for his decisions in matters of the heart.

In January 1999, a scandal erupted around his affair in the Seventies with a former pupil, Amanda Johnston. He was married at the time with an 11-month-old daughter, Tamsin. Eventually, he left his wife. Then he and Amanda lived together for nine years.

Woodhead originally insisted that they didn't get together until after she'd left school. But two months after the story first broke, his former wife, Cathy, said this wasn't true.

Her accusations and the wave of publicity were partly responsible for the break-up of his ten-year relationship with Ruth Miskin, one of the country's best primary school teachers.

'I do like women, but I am clearly not very good at relationships,' he admits rather coyly. 'I'm coming to the conclusion that it's perhaps better for me to live on my own.' He lives in a five-bedroom house in Porthmadog, North Wales. It is half a mile down a track, halfway up a mountain and ideally placed for walking and climbing. THE GREAT thing about climbing is that when you are doing it, nothing else matters,' he says. 'I spent last weekend there and didn't see anyone until Sunday night.

It didn't worry me.

'I'm not easy to live with. I can be selfish, stubborn and impatient. I wake up at 4.30am and am tired by 9pm. Not everyone could cope with that. But I can't compromise.

'I'm also exhausted by social contact and would often rather listen to a Beethoven or Shostakovitch CD.' Like most climbers, Woodhead prefers life to be in black and white terms. He is not a yes man. Nor is he afraid to take risks - characteristics that would hardly endear him to woolly-minded educationalists or members of the Labour Government.

He felt he had no option but to resign. 'Not only did I believe I was compromising my own views, I also felt that Tony Blair and David Blunkett, then Education Secretary, were using me to imply that they were serious about education standards, whereas in reality they were trying to undermine me.

'I have become totally disillusioned with Tony Blair.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Inspector Bites Back; Chris Woodhead Reveals What He Really Thinks of Labour's Education Policy and Speaks for the First Time about His Affair with a Student
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.