Q&A: My Dagenham - Ges Smith, executive headteacher at Jo Richardson and Dagenham Park schools

PUBLISHED: 17:30 06 September 2019

Jo Richardson Community School head teacher Ges Smith has been working in the borough for over 20 years.

Jo Richardson Community School head teacher Ges Smith has been working in the borough for over 20 years.

Jo Richardson

Ges Smith is executive headteacher at Jo Richardson Community School and Dagenham Park School. He gave The Post his view on the borough's young people and how the government could help out educators.

What is your connection to the borough?

I started working as an SEN co-ordinator at Robert Clack School over 20 years ago. I then moved to become deputy head at Jo Richardson Community School in 2002 and took the headship in 2009. I became executive head working with both Dagenham Park School and Jo Richardson in 2018. Dagenham Park is a fantastic school. I've really enjoyed meeting new members of staff and new students and going and working in another school.

What's the best thing about living or working in the borough?

The aspiration our people have. I've seen a significant change in aspirations in the last 20 years, where young people look way beyond the borough and way beyond the country for their future. It's a privilege to work in an area where a majority of young people want so much from their education and personal lives.

What one thing would you change?

The pace of building has put huge pressures upon individual schools and groups of schools.

There are still times where the pressures of increases in the number of places or reduction in the number of places puts significant challenges on headteachers. I think schools and education need to be involved in planning, and they are, but a lot more information could be given to schools to say, "this is what it's going to look like in three, four or five years time".

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Use three words to describe the area.

Ambitious, developing, aspirational.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

I meet some incredibly inspiring young people. There's a young man who is at my school who, because of his housing situation, lived right at the end of the Piccadilly line and he would travel for two and a half hours a day. He was never late and never complained. Whatever challenges he was facing in his personal circumstances, it has never affected how he works at Jo Richardson and he is doing really well.

If you were prime minister, what law would you introduce?

I would introduce a law that meant education ministers weren't party political appointments and that strategic planning was done up to 10 years in advance.

It would involve all professional partners and include representatives from across the whole educational spectrum.

What I want to acheive by doing this is give real consistency to the education and planning of the country.

If you were the editor of the Barking and Dagenham Post, what issues would you focus on?

It's a bit of a cliche, but obviously there's a lot of negative press in terms of young people being involved in violence and crime. I would focus on the acheivements of our young people. We know that bad news sells newspapers, but we must never lose sight of the unsung heroes of our school community.

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