James Jones

james jones portrait
James Jones
Head of Sidcot School

What led you to be a teacher/work in Education?

My father was a teacher, so I guess I followed in the family trade, but what really convinced me that I wanted to work in education was moving to an independent day and boarding school when I was 14. The community in such schools, the extra-curricular provision and sense of identity, alongside the academic provision really inspired me. From then on I knew I wanted to be a school master.

What's the best part of your job?

Learning from the incredible young people and colleagues I am surrounded by. Every day I see examples of great kindness, dazzling ingenuity, wonderful intellect and good humour … the staff are great too!

If you weren't in your current role, what would you be doing now?

Oh …I don’t know. Possibly working as an historian; I love my subject and, were I not in this role, I would have enjoyed researching and writing about the past. Other than that, I would have loved to be involved in something like producing radio documentaries for Radio 4. 

What's your most memorable moment (so far) from working at Sidcot?

So far! Well, I know I will have many more to come but I think it was speaking with pupils about how they prepared themselves for some of the social challenges young people face at this time and hearing them say, “We’re a Quaker School. We have grown up valuing the importance of equality and integrity. It’s part of who we are to meet these challenges”.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I was told that the real reason that we should always be ourselves is not because people will see through you if you’re not, but because if they didn’t you would have to spend all your time being someone else … which can be tiring and pretty miserable. It ties neatly with the advice from the oracle at Delphi, “know thyself”, which is something I love.

How do you live adventurously?

I love to challenge myself and do things that I am not good at. I had never skied until a few years ago, although my wife is an excellent skier. Despite dislocating my shoulder on half of the trips I have been on, I still give it a go! Similarly in the summers, my eldest son takes me surfing when we are on holiday and despite being no expert, I really enjoy it.

I also think living adventurously can involve how we think and how we experience new things in our every day lives. I am always looking for new things to learn, new meals to cook and ways that I can push myself to make the most of the time that is available to me. 

What is one subject you are curious about?

I am very interested in human behaviour, I greatly enjoy understanding more about human motivation, how teams behave, how we can optimise performance and how we spread kindness and joy within communities and institutions.

What is one cause you care passionately about?

The power of education. I think there is still a lot of work for us to do.

What is one misconception people have about you?

A friend and former colleague described me as “eminently sensible”… I was pleased to have pulled the wool over her eyes for so long!

What surprises you about Sidcot?

The wealth of opportunities that exist. Although we are a relatively small and close-knit community there is a huge range of activities for pupils and staff to throw themselves into and seeing all of these happen as part of the PASS programme is just fantastic.

What makes you proud of Sidcot?

The warmth with which people treat each other. The atmosphere is genuinely caring, and you know that each and every member of staff is doing what they can to help the young people in our School to meet their potential.

How would you like to be remembered by your students?

As someone who cared about them, who acted with integrity and someone upon whom they could rely. I would hope that they would think that everything I do at work is about helping them achieve.

If you had one word to sum up Sidcot, what would it be?


If you had one word to sum up yourself what would it be?


Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Gosh! I don’t know… I cheated and asked my wife. She said Buzz Lightyear or Michael Fassbender.