King Solomon headteacher Dr Paul Doherty reveals tools to get school ticking again
11:00 07 July 2014
It seems apt that as the World Cup reaches its finale a headteacher has revealed he wants his pupils to focus “like a football team before they play”.
Interim head of King Solomon High in Barkingside, Dr Paul Doherty, wants his students to adhere to a philosophy – just like top independent schools Eton and Harrow.
Teachers have been instructed to ensure all pupils collectively say a statement, known as the “acclamation”, at the beginning of every lesson.
Dr Doherty says it is something he has used previously in his 33-year career which he believes helps instil a philosophy at the school in Forest Road.
“The acclamation is to focus the pupils – a bit like a football team before they play,” he said.
“The pupils stand up and they all read it and within a few weeks they will have memorised it.”
The acclamation reads: “We promise to use our talents for the glory of others, our own good as well as our parents, our brothers and sisters in this school and for all members of our community.”
If the opening month of his tenure has been tough on the 67-year-old as he tries to revive the school, he does not show it.
It is clear from our conversation that Dr Doherty – also an author who has more than 100 books to his name – is well equipped to get King Solomon High back on track after an eventful few months.
He took over from former headteacher, Jo Shuter, in May who was banned from teaching for life after being found guilty of thousands of pounds worth of expenses abuses at her previous school, Kynaston Community Academy in St John’s Wood.
Since his arrival, Dr Doherty has introduced a zero-tolerance policy on uniform, attendance, punctuality, the handing in of homework and behaviour, which he calls Operation Avalon.
More than 100 pupils were sent home in three days for failure to take heed of Dr Doherty’s reminder of uniform requirements.
“The whole idea of uniform and discipline is linked. I am trying to build an engine to run the school,” he explains.
“This school is a restaurant – the food served is the curriculum, the way it is served is the pastoral care and the waiters are the teachers but the most important people are the customers – the pupils.”
Now he is juggling responsibilities at King Solomon with his headteacher role at Trinity Catholic High School in Woodford Green.
He said: “I have this 95 per cent theory – 95 per cent of children are brilliant. However, in any community you have an anarchistic movement – five per cent of pupils who will not want to be educated.
“What do we do with young people – the five per cent – that won’t change? They must be challenged because it cannot grow to 10 per cent.”
Dr Doherty, who is originally from Middlesbrough, added: “What I am focused on is getting the school right.
“God willing I will be here in September. I will do it as long as I can.”