Why did you want to put Willows High School forward for this series?
I think that the children at my school are remarkable and with the support of our outstanding staff manage to get past the barriers that hold them back such as low self-esteem, low aspirations and deprivation factors that put them at a disadvantage to others. I believe that they will be positive role models to other young people which might help them get through tough times in their lives.
Why do you think the producers chose your school?
They were looking for a school that was doing well in challenging circumstances. I also think they were inspired by the warm, family atmosphere and the close relationships the staff develop with the pupils.
Did you encounter many objections from staff, governors, parents and pupils?
None. I think everyone understood why we wanted to do it.
What did past Educating... Head Teachers say to you about the experience?
We mainly spoke to Jonny Mitchell from Educating Yorkshire about the filming experience. All the past Head Teachers we spoke to said they had really enjoyed the experience and had never regretted doing it.
Did you have any misgivings yourself? What were they?
I was initially worried that the series could be edited to show the children in a bad light. They usually do ten times more good than bad. They're just kids, they mess up, we put them right and they trust and appreciate us. The producers convinced me that they would show all of the stories they followed about individual pupils right the way through to conclusion.
Did you watch the previous Educating series when they went out?
Not when they went out although I watched the Gogglebox clip of Musharaf in Educating Yorkshire probably more than 50 times! The response of the viewers watching him overcome his speech barriers with the help of an inspirational teacher is so moving I cry every time. I showed it to our pupils in assemblies - we all cried together. Before deciding to be the next school I watched all of the previous episodes.
Tell us a bit about Willows High School...
Willows has been on an incredible journey over the past four years and has been transformed from one of the worst performing schools in the country to a school that we are very proud of. Our pupils are amazing; warm, friendly and funny with such incredible potential and our teachers talented, committed and always prepared to go that extra mile to ensure that our pupils achieve, no matter what their starting point. We believe that the relationships between our staff and pupils are extraordinary and want the series to show how so many of our pupils are beginning to fulfil their life potential.
What are the challenges you face, as a school?
Making sure the kids believe in themselves. We also need to change our reputation from the past which was very poor. Our results last year were the best of all similar schools in Wales. They are not the best we are going to get though.
Was it disruptive, having cameras in the school? Did you notice a reaction from the students or staff?
No. A couple of the kids showed off on the first day then we just forgot they were there.
You're responsible for the education and welfare of about 700 students and over 100 staff every day. Does the responsibility ever overwhelm you?
No, but I take this extremely seriously - I absolutely love the job and look forward to going to work every day. For every challenging moment there are ten times the good and it is extremely rewarding. A good head teacher needs to focus on the whole child putting the kids first whilst ensuring that the staff are looked after and well supported.
What's the toughest part of what you do?
Dealing with children with mental health issues. There's not enough specialist support out there to help them and it is hard to make sure they do well.
What's the best thing about what you do?
Celebrating everything the children achieve from their work to performances in sport or on stage and then ultimately their GCSE results when they finish with us.