On paranoia

Dr Monro


Dr Monro is concerned: even paranoids have enemies. He is regularly receiving emails from three sources. The Hong Kong tailors often inform him that they are in town and would like to arrange a fitting. The Eat Out Magazine frequently flies into his inbox. Finally, a company keeps asking him:do you need a new golf buggy?


Dr Monro’s internet profile is clearly that  of a well -tailored, obese golfer.. Dr Monro pleads not guilty on all three counts


Follow Dr Monro on twitter - https://twitter.com/BSixPrincipal


Dr Monro tweets!


Dr Monro, aka BSix Principal, is now tweeting!




Brian’s Brexit

Brian Clough

Brian Clough


There is a lovely story in Daniel Taylor’s book, ‘I Believe In Miracles ‘ about Brian Clough’s European Cup -winning Nottingham Forest. Clough was notorious for wanting the ball played on the ground (‘If God had wanted football played in the air he’d have put grass in the sky ‘) and to feet. When he joined the club in 1975 a player asked him if he should play the ball down the channel.


Clough replied:


” The Channel is a stretch of water between England and France. Pass it to feet or I will be throwing you in it.”



Sounds of Silence 2

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King


“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”


Martin Luther King



Sounds of Silence 1

Gabor Szabo, Miles Davis & Emeritus Professor Paul Black of Kings College London

Gabor Szabo, Miles Davis & Emeritus Professor Paul Black of Kings College London


“Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence”

Leonardo da Vinci


I have just discovered the music of Hungarian -American jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo. It is beautiful, often melancholic. The most striking thing is the spacing; his playing is sparse, uncluttered, but you can’t imagine any other notes being used.


It reminds you of Miles Davis who used space and silence so powerfully. “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”


Yet in leadership and teaching we are often afraid of silence. We jump in quickly, often to say something daft just to fill the gap.


Emeritus Professor Paul Black of Kings College London spoke to our teachers in 2007. He asked a question and waited about three minutes in an uncomfortable silence until somebody piped up. He then said: “See, if a question is worth asking, then it’s worth giving people time to think about an answer.” How often do we  do that?



Everyone an Anton


Anton Chambers & Clare College

Anton Chambers & Clare College


A Level results day last Thursday took me back to 2004. I was Director of the Sixth Form College in Tower Hamlets. On one of the proudest moments of my professional life,we got four students into Cambridge University. This was such a  breakthrough not only for the College’s staff and students but also for the whole  community.


One of the four was Anton Chambers. He  got AAB in his A Levels but the offer from Clare College was AAA. I remember discussing this with the admissions tutor. She was so keen to take Anton but was having to persuade her colleagues. She was risking her professional career and standing More broadly, if it went wrong it could have set back the widening participation agenda at the College for years.


It didn’t go wrong; in fact, it went brilliantly right. Anton was a star student and graduated with a first class degree in Law.


As the new academic year approaches, we need to remind ourselves; Everyone can be an Anton. That is our ambition.




On the second day


July 7th: Ten years ago today I was on my second day of interviews and activities for the job of BSix Principal. One session was a group task with the other candidates in which we had to design posters about student attendance. Two candidates said “Give it the students to devise the message and design the poster.” This resulted in a heated discussion because I felt strongly that this was an abdication of responsibility. What if the message appeared to condone absenteeism? What if the design wasn’t in keeping with the College’s image?


This is where we sometimes get student voice wrong. It isn’t always right and it shouldn’t always be followed. That doesn’t mean that you haven’t heard or listened. You often find this in everyday life. Someone will say to you: “You aren’t listening to me.” When what they really mean is: “You’re not going to do what I want.” The answer is: “I have listened to you but I disagree with you and I’m not going to do what you want.”


Sometimes, we have to give people what they need, not what they want. (And we can disagree about that as well).




On the first day



6th July: it is ten years to the day since I turned up for interview for the Principal’s job at BSix. One task was to lead a discussion with a group of students. I was bowled over by their strategic insights into the college –where it had been, where it was and where it was going. At the end of the session, one young man announced: “This place has established itself. It now needs to move on. What we need is a benevolent dictator.”


Benevolent? Moi?




Fear and learning

Cus D’Amato, Jose Torres and Muhammad Ali

Cus D’Amato, Jose Torres and Muhammad Ali

The great boxing trainer Cus D’Amato coached Floyd Patterson, Jose Torres and Muhammad Ali to world titles. He knew a thing or two about fear. He once said:


“Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it , you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it , it’ll destroy you and everything around you.”

Cus D’Amato (1908-1985)


Message from ‘The Greatest’

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali


The great heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali passed away today. He had his flaws (his unforgivable treatment of Joe Frazier, for example) but he was not only a formidable athlete but also a global phenomenon. My strongest boyhood memory is of my father staying up all night, even though he had work the next day, to hunch over the radio and listen to every Ali fight in the sixties. He did that to people.


In a message to us all at BSix, staff and students, he once said:


“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it  – then I can achieve it”