Aspirations run high.
A former prime minister, Olympic swimmers and an England rugby player all rub shoulders with nano-industrialists leading the latest industrial revolution, a high court judge, the deputy speaker of the House of Lords and the Chief Executive of BAFTA. Aspirations run high at Richmond School and Sixth Form College as it aims to fulfil the dreams and ambitions of all students regardless of their backgrounds and abilities. “If you come here that is what we expect – for you to be able to fulfil your ambitions and your dreams whatever they are,” said head teacher Ian Robertson. “If you buy into our school then we have the facilities and the teachers to help you do this”. “Students make excellent progress because all staff get to know them and focus on helping them to achieve their best results. It is about giving individual attention to every single child and I am really proud of what we now achieve at the school.” But there is certainly more to Richmond School and Sixth Form College than just the results. “I am equally proud of the fact that we have got more students involved in extra-curricular activities than ever before; in sport, music, dance, drama; recently we have seen students travel to Ecuador, France, Germany and India, as well as all over the UK,” Mr Robertson said. “Our job is about giving students a broad education to make them rounded people. Exams are crucial and improve a student’s life chances but we focus just as much on wider opportunities, embracing their hobbies and their passions in life. I hope that we make them believe in themselves and we are committed to finding something for everyone.” As head teacher Mr Robertson is passionate about developing his own staff. “I want the school to be the employer of choice for teachers across the region,” he said. “Teaching is a vocation but it’s a tough job and there is no better place to do it than here.” Lancashire born and educated in a Salford secondary modern school, he stayed in education to pursue his love of sport, particularly rugby. He studied a theology degree at the College of Ripon &York St John and undertook teacher training at Birmingham University. Mr Robertson began teaching religious studies at a comprehensive school in Rotherham, moved to Sandbach School in Cheshire and Castle Hall in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. He later became deputy headteacher at Woodham School, Newton Aycliffe, and headteacher of Blakeston School, Stockton-on-Tees and Executive Principal at the Hermitage School in Chester-le-Street, before moving to Richmond in 2010. His experience in teaching has led to a belief in the importance of schools supporting schools and the community. “The school is a community asset and the number of people and organisations who access our facilities is phenomenal. Most of the year we are open seven days a week, 9 till 9 and we do this in partnership with a host of clubs and organisations. “Seeing the children do well drives me, seeing them have great life experiences through education, seeing them enjoy all sorts of activities and it is a privilege to rub shoulder with these young people on a daily basis.” Favourite North-East building and why? “Not so much a building as a landmark, The Angel of the North. I like the way it looks over us in a caring, pastoral way. Closer to home I like the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond as I know when I watch our students perform there it is top class drama. Although some locals did not appreciate the new design of our James Tate school building I think it is great”. What was your first job and how much did you get paid? “When I was a student I was a plasterer’s labourer for £20 a week. Professionally a religious studies teacher at Clifton School, Rotherham, only paid slightly more”. What was your favourite subject at school and why? “Religious Studies because I had a great teacher”. What makes a great teacher? “Someone who inspires by creating great relationships, who goes the extra mile for students and demonstrates a passion for the subject”. What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? “I wouldn’t, I would leave it to my wife and then it would be a great dinner”. What would your superpower be? “Teleportation, so I could be anywhere in the world in an instance; and out of certain places when needed”. Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party. “Tommy Cooper, Ronnie Barker, Eric Morcambe and Les Dawson”. Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? “Me, because then you find out about the terrific achievements of students at Richmond School and Sixth Form College”. Favourite book? “Too many to name but I am currently enjoying Boris Johnson’s The Churchill Factor and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal”. When did you last cry? “I cry quite a lot, in a good way, when watching the success of our brilliant students, who fill me with so much pride. I cried last year when listening to the school Chamber Choir, who were simply superb. I also cry with joy when watching school sports teams win, or at school awards evenings when seeing the success of our talented students. Also when watching England rugby players sing the national anthem – I’m such a softie”. What is your greatest achievement? “Marrying Mrs Robertson and being invited to No 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister”. Favourite animal and why. “My dog Ruby”. What was the last band you saw live? “Paloma Faith in Dalby Forest”. Describe your perfect night in. “Watching rugby on BT Sport”. In another life I would be… “A presenter on Countryfile, Gardener’s World or Coast”. Who would play you in a film of your life? “George Clooney and then I would know that Mrs R really did fancy me”. What irritates you? “Hospital programmes on TV and ansaphones”. What’s your secret talent? “Juggling with one ball”.