Inspirational headteacher tells James O'Brien how his school saves students' lives

3 December 2019, 14:47 | Updated: 3 December 2019, 14:54

This incredible headteacher told James O'Brien how much his school transforms the lives of students without opportunities, but because "the government won't invest in failing schools", they couldn't even get a new boiler.

James said to the caller Matthew, "You're not just a teacher from what I'm hearing. I don't know how I would describe you. But the image I have in my mind of a teacher is a fraction of what you do."

"We wash children's clothes, we feed kids breakfast, we take kids into hospital when we need to," the headmaster Matthew in Thanet, "we fight with social services, the police, other things when when we need to. I'm not criticising those services they're as stretched as we are.

"Our view and my view is that education is a huge part of what we do, obviously, but actually, we have a responsibility to do the best for our kids."

Matthew said he hopes the school can get GPs and dentists to visit in the future because many of the students don't have either.

James remarked that he was a better man than he, and admired that his reward was giving others happiness.

Matthew said when Ofcom inspectors came round they left "in tears" after talking to students previously in gangs and said, "you're saving lives."
when Ofcom inspectors came round they left "in tears" after talking to students previously in gangs and said, "you're saving lives.". Picture: PA

Matthew said he didn't deserve praise for it because he loves what he does but sometimes it "hurts incredibly" as the school do as much as they can but want to do more.

James asked how he dealt with people who didn't believe the extent of his school's charitable actions and why they are so essential; Matthew replied that when talking about gangs and county lines, he experiences "good people who just don't want to believe it."

He said that when Ofsted inspectors came round they left "in tears" after talking to students previously in gangs and said, "you're saving lives."

Despite this, Matthew told James that "government policy is that they won't invest in schools that they consider to be failing".

His school had had a 1960s boiler, meaning the school was cold, and he said "the reason why the government wouldn't give us money to replace that boiler and fix it is because we would not a good school. So that government policy is that if a school is struggling and difficulties, they won't give it money."

Market forces aren't working in areas like Thanet, he said.

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