Headteacher Haydn Evans gets CBE in New Years Honours

Haydn Evans, Sir John Cass Foundation head teacher

Haydn Evans, Sir John Cass Foundation head teacher - Credit: Archant

Haydn Evans, a man of faith who has been running Stepney’s Sir John Cass & Redcoat for nearly 20 years, was given the CBE “for services to education.”

He has battled for a decade to bring his church-affiliated mixed-ethnic secondary up to GCSE standard, which has since been caught in the debate on whether state-funded schools like his should enrol pupils because of religion—especially in an area with a majority non-Christian population.

But he argued as recently as September in the East London Advertiser that the Church of England involved itself in education long before the beginning of state schools. It opened schools for the poor as far back as 1811 who previously had no education.

“My school reserves only 18 per cent for students of any Christian denomination,” he argued. “Eighty per cent are not Christian, reflecting the make-up of our community here in Stepney.”

It was science and maths that excelled at St John Cass, not the Christian story of The Creation, he pointed out.

“The premise on which science is taught is not Creationist or distorted by religious belief,” he said. “Our beliefs about scientific concepts are no different to any other state school.

“It is the ethos of a well-rounded education, not religious dogma or directive that is the basis of religious schools like ours.”

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Mr Evans has never been far from controversy. He battled 10 years ago to improve standards and got his trailing secondary in the national list of most improved schools. It was one of nine named by the Schools Inspectorate, Ofsted, as a model for tackling under-achievement among Bangladeshi students which in 2004 was a major concern among educationalists.

His school was in the top 100 which had improved the most, year on year, as vocational GNVQs were brought in which critics said were being used to boost GCSE results.

“There is the more cynical view that GNVQ is easier and inflates a school’s performance,” he said at the time. “But the new measures for league tables will become our strategic focus and we look forward to numeracy and literacy becoming our driving force.”

Haydn Evans’s mission statement at Sir John Cass is “respect for all” so that his pupils feel valued and cared for in a climate where tolerance is promoted, but where they are invited to take part in “prayer and worship”.

His aim is to promote aspiration, academic achievement, initiative and resourcefulness “within the context of faith.”

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