Michael Rosen
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A Great Headteacher

The headteacher of Columbia Primary School in east London is retiring. Penny Bentley was the head when two of my kids were at the school and I worked alongside her when she was a classroom teacher at John Scurr School, just down the road from Columbia. She ran the school with a great vision, rigour, persistence and commitment. She won loyalty from the staff and I've always enjoyed working in the school because of a whole school belief that the arts was a way in which children could develop a sense of themselves as people and a sense of themselves as a community (or communities) of people working together in a school.

A couple of years ago, I worked alongside a group of animators and together we devised a whole school CD-Rom and show that brought together the children's art-work, animations, poetry, music and performances. We used the general theme of water and a group of poets came in and all together, (that's every class) worked up this great artistic venture. It was brilliant. That needed a whole school commitment to something like that, and that can only come if a headteacher puts their weight behind it and believes in it. In my experience, there are not many headteachers who will do this. Penny has been one of them.

She has also been a great friend to my family and I'll never forget how wonderfully she acted as MC at the funeral of my son Eddie. She told the story of his life and introduced everyone calmly and yet full of sympathy and emotion. It was brilliant.



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