Principal led his ‘team’ with style

Thursday 12th September 2013 in letters, Andover Advertiser

I am writing to offer another perspective to the story on your front page of 6 September about Wellington Academy. One commentator said “education is a business, like football” – presumably to justify Andy Schofield being treated like a football manager whose chairman had run out of patience.  It would be easy if education was, indeed, a business like Premiership football.  The heads would select and buy students, train and coach them to do one thing, ie play football and then, if they failed to score enough goals for the club to get up the league table, send them off on a free transfer.

What Andy Schofield said at Wellington Academy was that anyone who turns up will get a game.  His players were just sent to his club, he couldn’t and wouldn’t pick and choose.  Andy Schofield never sent any of his footballers away on a free transfer.  He kept them all at the club, even when they turned up with no kit or were too exhausted to play because they had had nothing to eat since training the day before.  He kept them when they had never seen a ball before or weren’t sure of the offside rule.  He even took the occasional player who had been thrown out of someone else’s club. Some of his players came from overseas and, when they arrived, couldn’t understand what the coaches were saying.

And more and more players chose to come to the club because they liked Andy Schofield’s style of football and they loved the club.  Did he make the club Premier League in five (sic) years?  Of course not.  Did all his players become Rodney Marsh?  Of course not.  But they ended up much better footballers than they would have been at other clubs and had skills that enabled them to move on and enjoy productive lives as good citizens.  Sadly, the sponsor on the shirts was Wellington College and this year Andy’s fabulous, raggle taggle footballers became too much of an embarrassment for those in the directors’ box.

The word education comes from the Latin e-ducere, meaning to lead out.  Andy Schofield’s style of education does just that – it leads out of the children the best of their potential.  He, too, is a skilled educationalist, and his wide experience comes from state school education.  I hope that when next year’s results are published there is an acknowledgement that 80 per cent of those students’ education will have been under the headship of Andy Schofield.

He did great things at Wellington Academy. He deserved much more and there should be sorrow for what has been lost.

Name and address supplied, Andover

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