Support for Spiritualist Dame

Jean Else (left) with medium Mavis Pittilla at Buckingham Palace

A former contestant on the BBC The Apprentice programme has criticised the decision to strip disgraced super-head Jean Else of her Damehood.

Adele Lock, a 35-year-old salon chain owner from Knutsford, Cheshire, was a pupil at Stretford High School when Ms Else was deputy head there.

Later, as head of Whalley Range High School, Ms Else was sacked, accused of nepotism and financial mismanagement. She had promoted her twin sister from the post of clerical assistant to assistant head on a £58,000 salary. There were also accusations of other extravagances.

The General Teaching Council banned her from running a school, and her Damehood, awarded for her services to state education, was withdrawn.

Adele Lock, who appeared in the first series of The Apprentice, said that in her application to the BBC to take part in the programme, she wrote that Ms Else was the person who had inspired her most in her life.

“I’d have been a down-and-out if it hadn’t been for Jean Else,” said Ms Lock. “I was about to be expelled, and she made me believe I could do whatever I wanted, and that I had ability I shouldn’t waste.”

A year after this conversation, Ms Lock had become a prefect. She went on to gain seven GCSEs and an A-level.

“I do acknowledge that what she did was wrong, but sometimes people need to be unconventional and think outside the box to make things work,” she said. “Nobody can deny that she made a great success of her schools.”

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