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William Atkinson

Description

In this programme, Estelle Morris talks to one of the most respected headteachers in the country and the inspiration for Lenny Henry's character in the BBC drama Hope and Glory.

William Atkinson arrived in the UK from Jamaica at the age of seven, and was immediately put into a remedial class after being mistakenly identified as a nine-year-old.

Luckily, help was at hand from a teacher who saw his potential and gave him confidence. He said: "I met an absolutely fantastic teacher who saw in me qualities I didn't believe I had. And that person was responsible, I believe, for actually turning me around."

Atkinson went on to become a teacher himself and in 1995 became headteacher at the Phoenix Secondary School, in London's White City. At the time it was one of the country's most challenging schools, but last year, 60 per cent of his students achieved A* - C grades in their GCSEs.

Atkinson says his life's work has been to inspire his pupils and raise their expectations.

Part of the series: Estelle Morris Meets

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