Sir Michael Wilshaw named second most influential Catholic in the country

Sir Michael Wilshaw is the second most influential Catholic in the country, according to new rankings.

The former headteacher of Mossbourne Community Academy appears just behind Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, in a list of the 100 most influential Catholics compiled by The Tablet.

After more than 40 years as a teacher and school leader, Sir Michael was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector in 2012. He has developed a reputation for not shying away from blunt criticism of the educational establishment.

In tomorrow’s TES, Sir Michael lifts the lid on his childhood as he remembers the teacher who had the biggest influence on him, Cecil Pocock.

While many teachers at the former Clapham College in South London “flew by the seat of their pants”, Mr Pocock was a “character” who combined “flamboyance with severity”, Sir Michael remembers.

“As soon as Mr Pocock walked in [to the classroom] there was a hush, which wasn’t the case for all the teachers,” he says. “You knew he was a tough guy. He would stand at the front of the class in his gown, put his hand up and say ‘pax’. We were 11 years old; we didn’t understand what ‘pax’ meant. But he would just stand there. That’s all he had to do.”

And Mr Pocock’s passion for his subject proved “inspirational”, Sir Michael says: “I picked up my love of history from him – he is primarily the reason I became a history teacher.”

To read the full story, get the 15 May edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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