His teenage naughty streak got him expelled when he gave his teachers chocolate cornflake cakes spiked with laxatives.
But how the tables have turned for Owen Evans, who has just been appointed… a chief inspector of schools.
He carried out the prank in the 1980s – but felt being thrown out of school was the ‘massive kick up the bottom’ he needed to become a success in life.
Now 53, Mr Evans has been appointed chief inspector of schools in Wales and will take up the job in January.
The role follows a four-year stint at Welsh-language television channel S4C – where he is currently chief executive – and a previous stint as deputy permanent secretary of the Welsh government, responsible for education and public services.
How the tables have turned for Owen Evans, who has just been appointed… a chief inspector of schools
In that role, he drew up a list of 40 schools to be prioritised for investment – nicknamed the ‘naughty forty’ by some.
Following Mr Evans’s chocolate cornflake cake stunt, only 17 of 40 teachers turned up for school the next day.
The incident, which happened when he was 16, led to his father giving him a stern talking-to – but Mr Evans recalled shaking it off ‘like water off a duck’s back’.
He was, however, affected by ‘the look of disappointment in my mother’s eyes’ when he was expelled from the school in Aberystwyth, west Wales.
He said: ‘Getting expelled was a massive kick up the bottom.’
Mr Evans admitted that he was lazy at school, but said that going to a further education college to finish his studies ‘was the making of me’.
He added: ‘If I didn’t turn up the teacher would ring my house and ask where I was and then pick me up. It was partly the shame of being picked up that meant I started going.’
Mr Evans later went to Swansea University before beginning a career in business, helping develop BT’s broadband strategy and later becoming a civil servant.
His new role is at Estyn, the office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales. It comes after nearly two years of Covid disruption in the education sector.
After Mr Evans carried out the prank at Ysgol Penweddig school, coverage of his exploits made national news and even ended up as a cartoon in the Daily Mail.
His mother worked as a nurse and his father was in television – but one set of his grandparents had a smallholding with a few sheep and young Owen liked nothing more than helping out on the local farms.
And at one point, it even looked like the life of a shepherd might be for him. Mr Evans told Wales News: ‘I was asked by a friend’s father if I could cover for their shepherd during the holidays and thought, why not?
‘I didn’t have a dog but I did have a shiny aluminium crook, which I thought was quite hi-tech at the time. Imagine being paid to walk the hills of mid-Wales. The early mornings weren’t so great though.’
He added: ‘I liked the independence of having my own income, I met some amazing people and gained some great experience.’
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