Ian Seath (1966 – 1971)

Alumnus, Ian Seath

Having moved from Liverpool as a fourth form student at a technical high school, Ian Seath attended Lowestoft County Grammar School from 1966–71. Prior to this he had not studied any biology – a subject that he subsequently found fascinating. Ian recalled his old biology teacher, Charles Barsted, who let him work independently in the subject.

Ian went on to obtain A Levels and S Levels, finally achieving a degree in neuro-physiology at Sussex University, where he studied for three years. In 1974 he completed his PhD at the University of East Anglia.

This led to research and teaching jobs and finally a teaching qualification. In 2002 Ian was successful in his application for a job with HMI (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education), when he started inspecting FE colleges and teaching training, moving on to school improvement and Ofsted, covering the Norfolk and Suffolk regions.

In the Spring of this year, Ian retired and now does consultancy work. When we asked Ian about his school memories, he told me many stories; some of which we daren’t share! We’re certain he wouldn’t mind us telling you though that he was quite a character during his boyhood, and he and his chums carried out many a prank! This leads us to tell you about the day he sabotaged the school clock, which is the very same clock adorning a wall in our Entrance Hall today. Ian and a group of his pals decided it would be a “huge wheeze” to borrow the hands of the clock and replace them with multiple hands! Ian described the mission as like something from The Great Escape! While all exits were heavily guarded, the clock hands were swiftly removed and were missing for a good few days during which time new ones were being made… and were replaced by three new ones, which all went round together! Ian and his mischievous pals were never caught, even though the Head Teacher asked for the hands to be returned, in an assembly!

We asked Ian how things had changed since he studied here. He remarked that apart from new building improvements, people are much the same, as are the children. “The teachers are much younger,” he added. “Happy days.”

It was a pleasure to meet Ian, who left with a parting message: “Your future is in your own hands. Opportunities are there; grasp them. Seize the moment and run with it. There is nothing more important than a good education… and don’t mess with the school clock!”

Helen Seath, Assistant Principal, Raising Achievement

Ian’s daughter, Helen Seath, is our Assistant Principal, Teaching & Learning here at Ormiston Denes. We asked her what it was like to be the daughter of a former Ofsted Inspector and teacher. This is what she told us:

“As Ian’s daughter I was never going to get away with a career outside science or education; some of my fondest childhood memories are from the time he wrote his PhD, he was at home a lot and we would walk the dog most afternoons, though I was never allowed to just state the common names of the plants and animals we came across. It wasn’t until I went to middle school that I realised full species names were not the norm and I already had dad’s scientific mind.

“When dad took the role at Ofsted I was very proud but not surprised, as he held such a passion for education. Hearing and reading about the issues teachers faced only encouraged me to venture forth and become one myself. In my first few years dad would scrutinise my teaching methods and marking and even to this day, I dare not have an unmarked book in my house.

“Above all, he coached me (admittedly primarily over Star Trek episodes and Sunday lunches) to hold only the highest expectations of children and keep them firmly at the core of any decision I had to make. When you have this ingrained from so early on, even big decisions become really rather easy.

“It would be a lie to say I don’t, on occasion, ask for his advice but as with all great teaching, he has taught me to come up with the answers myself and not always take the obvious route.”

Our thanks and best wishes go to both Ian and Ms Seath.


July 2015

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