A Village Headmaster

Dr John Ridley

Yorkshire & Humber
Notice Period:
Regular (more than one month's notice)
University Lecturer
Paid: £40 - £80
22nd January 2022
Education | Schools | Humour | Story Telling

Face to Face presentations are available in Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East

John’s talk ‘A Village Headmaster’ is set against a backdrop of rapid and unrelenting educational change following the 1988 Education Reform Act. The establishment of Ofsted, the National Curriculum and compulsory testing for primary school children, redefined what was expected of teachers. Even with these pressures village primary schools continued to nurture their pupils and provided first class education which allowed children to grow and yet retain their individuality. John spent twenty-one years in a small village primary school and, through his stories, told with gentle humour, takes us through his experiences as a village headmaster. In his first term as head, and on the day of his first parents’ meeting, he discovered that the father of two of his pupils was not only an HMI but also Ofsted’s senior staff inspector! John tells of early pioneering links with city schools in Birmingham and Newcastle, working with and firing clay, making a BBC TV programme for schools, his love of outdoor education, the murder of Saint Alkelda, the legend of the Phantom Bagpiper of Great Fryup Dale and, of course, the amazing things that children say!


'Dr John Ridley was our guest speak at our Women's Institute meeting. It was a very interesting and amusing talk about being a teacher and headmaster in North Yorkshire. This was a great reminder to us all about the time when there were no risk assessments to take pupils on outdoor activities or regulations about watching recorded school programmes with a class full of children in someone’s front room. School was a fun place to be not only as a pupil but as a teacher. I am sure that his pupils will have lots of positive thoughts about the time they spent at school as he has being a teacher in a long and rewarding career.' (Barsdey-cum-Rigton WI, July 2019)

'Dr Ridley came to talk to our Tuesday Club on 13th February 2018. He shared anecdotes and reminiscences of his career as a village headmaster. It brought back memories for members of our group, as well as giving us a lot of enjoyment. We have invited him back to speak to us again. Thank you Dr Ridley.' (Sessay Tuesday Club, 2018)

'Dr John Ridley spoke to us about his experiences as a teacher and headteacher in small village primary schools in North Yorkshire. His stories, including endearing anecdotes about individual children, demonstrated the positive affection which characterises his memories of a long and rewarding career.' (Upper Wharfedale Field Society, Octagon Theatre, Grassington, 2016)

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About Dr John Ridley

John's teaching experience has been in primary and secondary schools and in April 2009 he retired after twenty-one years as a primary headteacher. He trained at Ripon College (Leeds University) and completed an MA in Primary Education at the University of York. As a Research Associate with the National College for School Leadership, and with their sponsorship, he completed his Doctorate in Education in 2010 and worked for the Open University, tutoring 'Children's Literature and 'Learning and teaching in the primary years', until 2020. Now fully retired, John volunteers for the National Trust and enjoys cycling and sailing. Through his talks, John raises funds for the charity Education Support, the only UK charity dedicated to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff in schools, colleges, and universities.

Talks are available online and include PowerPoint presentations

Face to Face presentations are available in Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East

Previous Bookings: Wesley Guild Richmond, Wesley Guild Cotherstone, Newton-le-Willows WI, East Witton WI, Richmond U3A, Harrogate Friendship Club, Ure WI, Bedale Methodist Church, Bainbridge WI, Richmond Mothers’ Union, Melsonby WI, Wensleydale Wives, Bedale Probus, Northallerton Stroke Forward, Staindrop Over 60s, Swale WI, Ingleton WI, Ravensworth WI, Richmond WI, Manfield WI, Gayle Ladies, National Trust Supporters in Knaresborough Golf Club, St Agatha’s Gilling West, Kirby Sigston WI, Harrogate Ladies’ Forum, Upper Wharfedale Field Society in the Octagon Theatre Grassington, Wetherby Classic Car Club, East Witton W I, Richmond WI, Cleveland Outlook, Out and About in Yorkshire (Knaresborough), Cameo Richmond, Staindrop WI, Sessay Tuesday Club, Women in Middleham, Stainton and Streatlam WI, Cotherstone Over Sixties, Sessay Tuesday Club, Burneston and Carthorpe WI, Thirlby Local History Group, Haxby and Wigginton Local History Group, Barkisland Active Together, Barkisland Cricket Club, Halifax, Ben Rydding MHA Ilkley, Bardsey-Cum-Rigton WI, Scorton Buddies and Thirsk U3A.

2021 Zoom Bookings: 2.01.21 Thurlow WI, Suffolk; 14.01.21 Chanctonbury Probus Club, West Sussex; 24.02.21 Retired Leaders in Education, Avon; 18.03.21 Rotary Club of Marlow; 09.04.21 Early Birds WI (Cambridge Federation of WIs); 05.05.21 Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society; 13.05.21 Uplowman WI Devon; 18.05.21 The Rotary Club of Richmond, North Yorkshire; 01.06.21 Little Aston WI; 04.06.21 National Trust, North Cheshire Centre (a supporters group of NT members); 10.06.21 Stratton Probus Club; 16.06.21 Maney Probus Club, Sutton Coldfield; 08.07.21 Elm Tree & Fairfield Women’s Institute, Stockton-on-Tees; 16.08.21 Roding Valley U3A and 29.09.21 Essex Federation of Women's Institutes

2022 Face to Face Bookings: 18.01.22 Pudsey Friendship Group; 20.01.22 Knott End Golf Club, Ladies’ Lunch; 14.03.22 Richmond WI; 15.03.22 Thoralby WI; 30.03.22 Wetherby U3A; 12.04.22 Worsall WI; 22.08.22 Filey Ladies’ Fellowship; 29.09.22 Women in Fellowship, Pannal; 12.10.22 Northallerton U3A; 18.10.22 Middleham Women, Key Centre; 20.10.22 Poppleton WI

Comments: 'Thank you so much for giving us an excellent talk last night. We found it very entertaining and I’ve had some excellent feedback. We also had a record audience for your talk. Good luck with your future zoom talks.' (Chanctonbury Probus Club, January 2021)

'It was a pleasure to have John speak to us at our U3A meeting. He was very informative and amusing. We all thoroughly enjoyed his talk and look forward to seeing him again at some future date.' (Thirsk U3A, March 2020)

'Thank you so much for your talk on your very interesting and rewarding career. Your pupils were indeed lucky to have such a dedicated teacher/head teacher. Your talk evoked many memories for the retired teachers amongst us.' (Little Aston Evening WI, May 2021)

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