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Retiring headteacher of UCS Junior remembers proudest and darkest times at the school

Kevin Douglas head of UCS Junior branch due to retire at the end of term. Picture: Nigel Sutton Kevin Douglas head of UCS Junior branch due to retire at the end of term. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Saturday, June 14, 2014
9:00 AM

A rugby-loving headteacher set to retire after leading a Hampstead junior school for 13 years has named his proudest memory as the moment he was told that Ofsted had rated the school “outstanding”.

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Kevin Douglas, who will step down from the top job at University College School (UCS) Junior Branch next month, was sat next to UCS chair of governors, Sir Brian Leveson, who led the inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal, when the announcement was made.

His darkest times came when a parent sat down in his office to tell him that he had terminal cancer.

“I had a father come in and say, ‘I’m dying, will you be a role model for my son?’ That’s emotionally draining,” said married father-of-three Mr Douglas, who has three grandchildren under the age of two.

Mr Douglas, who joined the public school as headteacher in 2001, said he felt guilty when he first announced his retirement last autumn, but he now feels it was “the right decision”.

He will remain in the world of education, as he is to become chairman of the International Association of Preparatory Schools Charitable Trust, which hands out grants to those struggling with school fees, and will be governor of two independent junior schools.

He also spoke of his concerns that children with English as a second language will struggle to cope with the new National Curriculum.

Foreign languages will become compulsory from the age of seven at state primary schools from September, but Mr Douglas believes the measure could affect the performance of children who are not native English speakers. “We already teach French between seven and 11, we even do a Year 5 French play,” said the 58-year-old, of Mill Hill. “But we are a selective school with really bright children who can keep up with French.

“There are some schools, particularly in state schools, that have a high proportion of foreign children. It’s much more important that they learn to reach a high standard of English rather than worry about another foreign language.”

Mr Douglas trained to be a teacher at Loughborough University and 
began his career at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet in 1977, where he taught maths and physical education.

But he juggled teaching with rugby and played for top sides Saracens and Harlequins, where he was a team-mate of England’s Rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, before the sport turned professional.

He then moved to Belmont School, Mill Hill, in 1982, becoming deputy headteacher in 1992, before joining UCS Junior Branch nine years later.

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