WHEN you start your new job as headteacher at one of the district's largest schools you don't expect your first task to be to close it.

But that was the situation facing Roding Valley High School's new head Paul Banks, when he was forced into that action because of the snow last week.

He said: “It was a very challenging first week. When I phoned up the authority on Wednesday afternoon to tell them I was closing the school on my second day, I thought it would be unpopular, but I was told not to worry- a head in Clacton had closed on his first day.”

Mr Banks, 35, takes over at Roding Valley from Geoff Mangan having moved from his position as deputy head at Boswell School, in Chelmsford.

“I didn't know anything about west Essex,” he said. “All my teaching's been done in east Essex or London. I saw the job and I liked what I saw. I came to the school had a look around and was quite impressed by it. The students are very polite. I don't know how many have come up and said hello to me. The staff have been very welcoming as well.

“I'll be working with the staff to make sure we get it right for every single student at Roding Valley. You can look at league tables, but actually as a parent, you want your child to be taught right.”

Mr Banks takes over the reins at the school, in Alderton Hill, Loughton, at what he believes will be a tough time for education, after a period of massive investment.

“I think the challenge to any schools will be the tightening from central Government of the finances,” he said. “What we'll have to do is, despite that, still give students an outstanding experience here.

“There's been a lot of investment over the last 10-15 years. Students have access to a lot of things I didn't have at school. I think we're in a good place.”


> What are you reading at the moment, and what is your favourite book?

I'm currently reading 'Ordinary Thunderstorms' by William Boyd although I've not really had a chance to pick it up lately. I don't really have a favourite book as such, although I do enjoy all aspects of travel writing. I do read quite a bit and enjoy reading all types of books.

> What is your favourite hobby?

I love playing and watching sport, although with 2 young children I don't really have the time to play much anymore. Most of my spare time is now spent with my family and that is fantastic!

> Who is your hero?

Anybody that stands for justice, fairness and equality in the world we live in.

> What do you like most about Loughton?

I don't really know the area very well at all, having taught in the east of Essex for most of my career. The best thing so far has been the friendly welcome that I have received from the students and the staff at the school. This has helped me settle in very well. Hopefully I will get to know the area very well in the coming years.

> What is your favourite television programme?

I don't really watch a lot of TV but anything on Sky Sports!

> What would you be doing if you weren't a teacher?

When I was at university I had a part time job in a large hotel and really loved it. I really enjoy working with people and the hotel trade gave me that opportunity, so I guess that, or any other job that involves working with people a lot.