The Headteacher: Take life’s opportunities when they come

Steve Woodhouse is the executive headteacher of Bishop Wilton 'CE Primary School and the Beswick and Middleton Federation
Steve Woodhouse is the executive headteacher of Bishop Wilton 'CE Primary School and the Beswick and Middleton Federation

When ITV contacted me to arrange a Good Morning Britain appearance, I had mixed feelings. Believe it or not, I have always been a very shy person and the thought of being on television filled me with dread.

The day before the interview started very early, 3am to be precise. I always make a point of ‘waving off’ the school residential visit and this year they have travelled to France.

I imagine there were some children boarding the coach who had that same feeling of fear that I would experience later on. I think it is a brave decision to leave the country without your parents and I was very proud of the way they said their farewells.

Residential visits are wonderful opportunities for children and they always return full of confidence, eager to share their stories. As a child I had the chance to visit both Whitby and France on residentials, but always found a reason not to go; the shyness and fear of leaving home was always too much. Those feelings help me to identify children who have similar insecurities and I do my best to reassure them; it doesn’t always work though.

Having watched the coach depart from Beswick school, I decided to stay at work and complete some paperwork while the building was quiet.

I planned to leave early in the afternoon to compensate for the early start. It didn’t work out that way! When the phone rang at about half past three, I was ready for bed, not a trip down to the ITV studios.

My first instinct was to say no, how could I possibly appear on national television? My wife then pointed out, how could I possibly miss the opportunity?

Sometimes, you have to leave your comfort zone and just give it a go; this was going to be me, giving it a go! The next twenty four hours would prove to be quite a whirlwind.

Annette, the ITV producer, told me I had to be on the 5.40 train to London; she would ring me to check I had caught it. The price of the ticket was more of a shock than the initial phonecall, £249 for the return! I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t even have a reserved seat. There’s no wonder Annette would be ringing me to check if I had caught it.

The journey to London went very quickly as I pondered over what I would be asked the next day. The topic would be violent video games and I would appear alongside a TV psychologist.

Annette rang and told me that a car would be waiting outside Kings Cross with my name on; I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sure enough, a black car with my name displayed in the window greeted me.

How embarrassing, I thought to myself. The driver took me to a hotel and asked me to be ready for 5.30am the next morning, another early start then! I could choose a meal and enjoy free drinks in the hotel courtesy of ITV – now that could have been dangerous...

I hardly slept a wink. As the night went on I became more and more nervous, dreaming ridiculous things in my occasional dozes. I dreamt I’d forgotten my shirt, lost my shoes, lost my voice and sworn on set.

When the driver arrived at 5.30 I felt like I had made a massive mistake.

I still had no idea what I would be asked, and what if I did say the wrong thing, live, on air, to millions of people?

A residential in Whitby would have been a breeze compared to this.

Richard Arnold, the entertainment presenter, helped to ease my nerves.

He has more energy than Tigger and bounced around the Green Room preparing for his slot. The fresh fruit and croissants looked very appealing, but the fear of being on TV with pineapple juice on my suit suppressed the appeal.

The crew behind the scenes were incredibly professional; everything ran like clockwork and I found it fascinating. I imagined working there and experiencing the constant buzz of being time dependant to the exact second.

My time in the make up room was particularly unsettling. Applying cream and powder to my face is not something that happens in a normal school day, thankfully. I was pleased to hear that Dr Hilary was in the make up chair for much longer than me, obviously more work to do there...

The next 10 minutes would pass more quickly than any other time I can think of. I was ushered through a door to the sofa and introduced to Kate Garroway and Ben Shepherd.

They were both delightful and helped to put me at ease. I have absolutely no idea what happened after that.

I have no recollection of the questions and I can’t bring myself to watch the recorded interview! I know from friends and colleagues that it went well and I came across okay, but I couldn’t bear to watch it back; maybe one day.

Travelling back on the train, I felt I had made the right decision. By 11.30am I was back in school telling my story to the children, hoping it might inspire a few to consider the world of TV.

Life gives us many opportunities and we have to learn to take the right ones, sometimes leaving our comfort zone and facing fear head on.