As a product of the Essex education system myself, Educating Essex was compelling viewing when it first aired and there were many parallels with my own secondary education. The book discusses the difficult decision to allow a film crew into the school, the worries about laying Passmores bare in front of a national audience and the support that was given by the staff and school community. Vic writes vividly about the aftermath of the television series on himself, the school and especially for the students Passmores, and how he and the school dealt with some negativity from some quarters of the media and public at large.
But the book is so much more than a retelling of the series from Vic's own point of view. It is a personal exploration of the role of school leaders and the joys that the role can bring. He talks about the need to continually improve schools and the recipe for a successful and responsive school leadership team. It is clear is that Vic is well aware of the role that teachers have played throughout his life and he is humbled by the contributions that each has made in helping him be the professional he is today and his path to headship.
Vic challenges the conception by some of the teaching profession that heads and senior leaders are distant and make little impact on the day to day learning of students in their care. He reminds us, “I've got a massive classroom. I have over a thousand children in my lessons as well as over two hundred staff.” He talks about his delight at seeing members of staff which he hired grow and blossom and make a real difference to children's learning and their lives.
In later chapters Vic outlines the difficult role and responsibility of balancing the ever changing Government policy and many of the pressing national educational issues that the country currently faces with the realities on the ground and he offers sound advice for educators at every level.
For me as an educator, I found chapter 10 simply inspirational and chiming with my own views of teaching. Vic investigates the five core qualities which are essential for successful leadership. Without given them away, each of these positive qualities were seen abundantly from the television and throughout his book. The Best Job In The World is essential reading for anyone in senior management, anyone looking to move into such a position or confirmed classroom teachers who wish to gain an insight into how an effective senior management team works.