The Best Job in the World

By: Vic Goddard


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 140 x 216mm
Pages : 176
ISBN : 9781781351109
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2014

“As much as I have been uncomfortable at times through the last two years, it is hard to be anything other than thankful that we did that TV show.”

So says Vic Goddard, describing life after the multi-award-winning TV series Educating Essex, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about life in his Essex comprehensive school. But this isn’t a book about a television series, it’s about being a head teacher fighting tooth and nail to give children the sort of education that will genuinely help them to make something of their lives.

This is a book about running a school, about the purpose of education, about becoming a leader, about family, about love. It’s a book about having the best job in the world.

Picture for author Vic Goddard

Vic Goddard

Vic Goddard is the Principal of Passmores Academy and star of the BAFTA nominated Channel 4 documentary Educating Essex. He is a proud South Londoner, having been raised on a council estate then going on to train as a PE teacher and eventually becoming the nation's best-loved Headmaster thanks to his undeniable dedication to his school and the young people inside it.

Watch Vic Goddard on Channel 4 - Educating Essex.

Read Vic's article Is your leadership child-centred?' on SecEd's website.

Vic Goddard's Teacher Blog for The Guardian Online.

Read Vic's interview with The Guardian Education April 2014.

Read Vic's interview with The Sunday Telegraph May 2014.

Read Vic's profile from Schools Week.

Vic Goddard on How to Educate Essex, Ofsted, Overtesting'and more!


  1. The story of the author's life as a headteacher in an English school. Puts the issues facing a headteacher and ways of dealing with them in vivid context.
  2. 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.
  3. Having never watched the television show I can't offer comparisons; what I can offer is my recommendation to anyone interested in school leadership or general autobiographies to read this book.

    Vic shares his personal reflections on what makes great leadership and his child centred approach through entertainingly written and accessible anecdotes and examples. The book avoids complex jargon and irrelevant phraseology in order to make this a book both those within and outside of education can enjoy.

    Great warmth and integrity underpin the words in this book and it makes a compelling argument for being the right kind of leader.

    See the original here:
  4. If you're familiar with The Simpsons, you'll know Troy McClure - TV and Hollywood star - and his introductory catchphrase: “Hi, I'm Troy McClure, you may remember me from such -¦ as -¦”

    Vic Goddard, Principal of Passmores Academy, had been an inspiration to his staff, students and school long before the TV cameras rolled in and Channel Four brought them squarely into the nation's spotlight. No doubt many think of him solely in the context of the show-¦ “Hi, I'm Vic Goddard, you may know me from such life-affirming documentaries as Educating Essex-¦” or, more depressingly, “Hi, I'm Vic Goddard, you may remember me from such poorly-researched newspaper articles as What sort of example is this to set our children?”

    Although being labelled in this way is one of the pitfalls of reality television fame, Educating Essex merely brought to a massively wider audience the way Vic Goddard led his school long before the cameras ever showed up (and how he continues to do so now they've left). They just recorded it for the rest of us. More specifically, it served to highlight Goddard's wonderfully-positive philosophy on teaching and headship. In the introduction to -˜The Best Job In The World', Ian Gilbert describes Goddard as “infectious”, which (although we've never met him) is how he's always come across to us. His students and staff must feel valued. If you got to choose the captain of your ship, you'd want someone whose enthusiasm and positivity rubbed off on the crew-¦

    -˜The Best Job In The World' is more than an account of a TV documentary and how it affected a school. In it, Vic Goddard gives his take on what makes leading a school so special and, along the way, his enthusiasm and students-come-first attitude sparks something in the reader.

    Prior to writing the book, Vic Goddard tweeted asking why those who didn't aspire to being a Headteacher held these views. He was disappointed with some of the negative responses he received and addresses these arguments in the book. For example the increased workload, having a skewed work-life balance, having the buck stop with you and the “inverse snobbery” of believing that classroom teaching is real teaching.

    An aside: when teaching full-time (and, if you're a male in a primary school, you'll know the question of whether you see yourself as a Head crops up from time to time), moving towards Headship was never an aim. This wasn't because we believed it was the only way we could make a difference to children's lives (it wasn't), or the fact we felt like we were doing the important stuff at the coal face (we didn't) - these are the sort of snobbery arguments Vic Goddard counters. It was just that we loved teaching a class of kids all day every day. It was really enjoyable, that's all.

    In addition to dealing with some of the reasons more people don't go into Headship, Vic Goddard also looks at what it takes to be a successful leader: Personality, Passion, Pride, Perseverance and Purpose.

    (For some reason, these brought to mind Sanka from -˜Cool Runnings' when we read them! “I got Personality. I got Passion. I got Pride. I'm a bad Principal who don't take no messin' off nobody!”). He also addresses the fact that being at the top can be a lonely place and the self-doubt that is inevitable.

    What comes across incredibly clearly in -˜The Best Job In The World' is the strength of community and clarity of vision that Vic Goddard and his team have developed. Bridges have been built with potential parents (as well as those who opted to send their children elsewhere), a loyal staff has been established by promoting from within where possible, community ties have been enhanced and the school environment (a newly-built one) has been instrumental in creating something strong, nurturing and outward-looking.

    In Part Two of the book, Vic Goddard goes through the school improvement model being used at Passmores. Suitable for summer reading on the beach? Yep. As the author states, “You may have heard me talk about the issue of clutter and how much of it I think there is in education, both in our thinking and the way we approach things. School improvement models and plans are a case in point.” He then goes on to introduce the Gordon Ramsay approach to school improvement, covering the menu (curriculum), customers (community) and the school environment along the way.

    Whether you're feeling lonely at the top, aspiring to greater heights or not, -˜The Best Job In The World' is perfect reading this summer. It's more than just is a headteacher's Ode to Headteaching or a leader's Ode to Leading. This is a teacher's Ode to Teaching. A battery-recharger that you'll come away from with renewed passion for the job and refocused on the things that matter. If you care about the fact your students come to you with all sorts of baggage and your role in helping them with it and teaching them despite it, you'll revel in Vic Goddard's philosophy.

    When we advertise our Everything Pack on Twitter it often involves a tweet similar to a Kenning, using terms like “character-valuers”, “test/life-rebalancers” and “creativity-fosterers”. You can sum up the Principal of Passmores in a similar way.

    And so, to misquote Troy McClure: “This is Vic Goddard. You may remember him from undertaking such student-valuing, staff-inspiring, community-involving, perspective-realigning roles as the best job in the world.” Ian Gilbert's right. Infectious is the word.

    This is No.1 of Sparky's Summer Reads 2014.
  5. Vic Goddard is a head teacher. Yes, thanks at least in part to a Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall
    documentary, he is also a TV star, public speaker, popular educational commentator and
    now, author ... but ultimately and always, he is a head teacher and wouldn't have it any other way. Here, he talks with customary honesty, passion and humour about his life and work - how he ended up doing the job he does, and why it is, in his opinion, the best job in the world, right here, right now. It's a simply joyous read - uplifting, inspiring and utterly truthful. Vic Goddard doesn't look at his school, or the society in which it exists, through rose-tinted glasses - instead, he has a knack of seeing past
    the window-dressing and straight through to the heart of what matters. He is as modest as he is engaging, and therefore reluctant to dole out 'advice', as such ... but nonetheless, it could be hard for anyone, from NQT to seasoned leader, to finish thi? book having learnt nothing at all.
  6. A pleasure to have read this book about the experiences of a PE teacher whose “knees gave way and belly got too big” but whose personality and enthusiasm for life as a head teacher encouraged others and kept television viewers glued to the “adventures of Vic” in “Educating Essex”. Those of us who have worked in schools as teachers, support staff, advisers, and inspectors are fully aware that it is the personality and leadership of the head which determines the ethos of the school. Vic creates a dynamic organisation by energising and enthusing others. Not for him the comfortable chair behind the extra-large desk. He is out and about around the school, being present at lunch and break times talking with students . However it is apparent that his enthusiasm for work has caused personal difficulties and he concedes that his weakness is achieving a work life balance.

    This book is an excellent resource for all aspiring head teachers at all levels, since it is realistic and practically focused. Vic showed himself to be an inspirational head who has the inter personal skills to engage well with others, and the experience to set up successful systems to enable access and inclusion to lead to achievement at all levels. From one geriatric PE and mathematics teacher to another, thanks for an enjoyable read Vic.
  7. A book that shares many features of the man who wrote it: frank, honest, disarming, sincere and utterly committed to the wellbeing of children's education. If, God forbid, we were to clone every school from one parent, you could do far worse than using the School That Vic Built as a template. If all head teachers bar one were to be banned, the last man standing should be this man. I have no idea how his integrity, enthusiasm, drive and commitment have survived promotion, let alone adolescence, but thank God it has. Every teacher and Head Teacher could do a lot worse than to read what he has to say, and think long and hard about what it means to them.
  8. I loved this book. It is a frank, jargon-free and humane account of headship. Above all Vic reminds us that schools are so much more than the last exam results or Ofsted grade. They are infinitely complex places, led by real human beings who carry the weight of everyone else's expectations. The greatest job in the world maybe but read this book and be grateful to those who do it.
  9. What I love about The Best Job in the World is its readability. Its narrative pings along at a pace and Vic's story of his life as a Headteacher is compelling. But it's much more than a Reality TV star's tale - it's about what it is like to be a Headteacher in England right now and how Headteachers like Vic are holding onto their moral purpose amidst tumultuous educational change. It's a rollicking good read; as an insight into Headship I reckon it's unrivalled.
  10. Chronicling his time as a teacher and head teacher Vic's book gives us a unique insight into his career, the decisions he's made (good and bad) along the way, and the reasons behind his ideas and methodology.
    Vic's absolute love for his job is driven by his belief that every child matters, and that the impact education has on that child can be life changing.
    Tactics on how best to run a school, acknowledging ones strengths and weaknesses, improving your leadership... this book is a practical guide packed full of personal wisdom.
    Not only recommended for the teaching profession, but an inspiring read for anyone interested in making the most of their potential.
    We can all learn something from Vic Goddard.
  11. Working with Vic is a rollercoaster, but one where the designer has missed out the downward bits but has managed to keep the loops in. Vic captures the Passmores' experience and his centrality to perfectly. This book captures beautifully how Vic Goddard's Passmores works. It is a special community to be part of and I was privileged to play my part.
  12. Vic Goddard speaks from the heart but never fails to use his head. The man who defended his school against the tabloid press now tackles those who snipe at headship without understanding its value, its pressures or its rewards. Teachers need to be leaders. Vic shows them how.
  13. Any teacher wavering over whether or not to take the next step to becoming a school leader will get a confidence boost from Vic Goddard.
    As well as providing insight into the school that was the stage for Educating Essex, Vic makes an entertaining case for headteachers to model themselves on a rather different TV success: the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay (though, hopefully, without quite as much swearing).

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