Head to Head with Paul Cornish, Principal of Newton Abbot College


Paul Cornish

Your current title / role:

Principal of Newton Abbot College (11-19 Academy)

Brief career background

I spent two years teaching RS at Torquay Community College, followed by seven years as Head of RS South Dartmoor Community College. I then spent three years as Assistant Principal at Isca College of Media Arts, and four years as Senior Vice at Principal Bodmin College. I am currently now in my fourth year as Principal at NAC.

What does a typical working day look like?

I'm usually in college at around half seven, for an hour’s work before the college day begins. I'm out on the gate greeting the students as many mornings as possible, unless my diary prevents it.

I attend various meetings and appointments through the day, avoiding break and lunch if possible – so I can be out and about across the college at these times. I aim for at least one walk around the entire college during a lesson period. I teach year 8 RS or year 10 Science (only six lessons a fortnight but I do still teach!)

I'm then back out on the college gate for the end of college, and often have after college meetings/parents evenings etc. 

I'm home in time to read my own children a bedtime story as many evenings a week as possible!

What did you have for dinner last night?

Beans on toast with salt, pepper and grated mature cheddar.

What was the last piece of music you listened to?

Any track from 'Now: that’s what I call Classic Rock'. It's in the CD player in my van and my children are obsessed by it and won’t let me change it.

What was your favourite and most hated subject when you were at school?

I loved Science and Maths. My A levels are in Chemistry, Biology and Maths. I then did Theological Studies (BA Hons) at Uni and a PGCE in Religious Studies! My least favourite subjects at school were probably Languages and History/Geography. And I’m still not an EBacc fan!

What is the best thing about your job?

Staff and students. Relationships in the college are brilliant and it is just such a lovely place to come and spend time with people all day, every day.

If you could change one thing about the current education system what would it be?

Resisting the temptation to say funding… I am passionate about mainstream comprehensive education and would remove selective education from the state school system. I am also dead against any arbitrary targets in terms of numbers of students completing an EBacc curriculum when it might not be right for them. I'm passionate about Creative Arts and Sport within schools too and fear their demise in the current political context. Sorry…the question said one thing…

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