‘If I wasn’t a teacher, I’d be lead singer of The Clash’

18 Nov 2012 @ 10.54 pm
| Opinion

Eric Cantona and Seve Ballesteros… inspired John Tomsett
He’s the punk-loving Eric Cantona fan who’s also a York head teacher. Meet our new star columnist

John Tomsett is the head teacher of York’s largest school and is leading the fight for a fairer education system.

We are delighted to say that John has now joined YorkMix as our new star columnist. A gifted writer, his a knowledgeable, forthright and passionate views are going to be a must-read. You can read John’s influential educational blog here.

His first YorkMix column will be up soon. But first here’s an introduction to the man and his inspirations.

What’s been your greatest failure – and your greatest achievement?

Biggest personal achievement – still married after 24 years with our two sons; biggest professional achievement – helping Louis get a grade C in his English GCSE this summer!

Greatest failure – I returned to university for the last month of my dad’s life when we knew he was dying and that now feels like a huge failure.


Which people have inspired you and why?

Different people have inspired me at different times of my life: Seve Ballesteros due to his raw talent and charisma when I was a mad keen young golfer; Seamus Heaney due to his rural background and his poetry when I was aspiring to leap beyond my working class roots and go to university; my wife for the past 28 years; Eric Cantona, the footballing equivalent of Seve; Sir Ken Robinson due to his inspirational reflections on creativity in education.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

When I was 13 I was a pretty good golfer and, boy, didn’t I let everyone know it! My dad’s mate Tom pulled me aside and said quietly, “No one likes a bighead”. It’s stuck with me ever since.


What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?

Never waste a second – you’re a long time dead!


If you could travel in time, when and where would you go?

I’m interested in the future. Twenty years ago who could have imagined some of the things we can do now, Bluetooth magic and all that!? I’d like to visit York in 2112 a hundred years from now and see whether we have continued to progress or whether we reject the new technologies.


When are you happiest?

Saturday morning, 7am, when our youngest gets in between us in bed and we chat about what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. We’ve only got a few of those moments left – he’ll be too cool/big/embarrassed to do it soon, so I treat every time he clambers in beneath the duvet like it’s going to be the last time.


Choose one… film, book, CD, luxury

Film: Rififi directed by Jules Dassin
Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
CD: London Calling by The Clash
Luxury: Montblanc Fountain Pen


If I wasn’t a head teacher I’d be…

If I wasn’t a head teacher I’d have been one of three things: a professional golfer; lead singer of The Clash or a Ghillie on a stretch of the River Tweed in Scotland!