A HEAD teacher from York is following in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama for his latest venture.

Huntington School head John Tomsett has been invited to speak at the Oxford Union where previous guest speakers also include world leaders and intellectuals, among them Albert Einstein.

Former Huntington student Luke Charters-Reid, who is now studying at Oxford, suggested his old head teacher for the job, but Mr Tomsett was also chosen because of his work on the influential Head Teachers Round Table.

As previously reported by The Press, Mr Tomsett is one of 12 heads on the non-party political group who at the beginning of May this year launched an educational manifesto - one year before the General Election.

On Thursday, Mr Tomsett will be debating the motion: This House Believes Private Schools Do More Harm Than Good.

He said: “The debate should be fascinating and, to be honest, a bit scary. Going into the very heart of Oxford University and arguing that private schools do more harm than good has its challenges.

“Certainly, we see in this country the gap between rich and poor get wider every year... on the other hand independent schools in York are great to work with and many state school students across York benefit hugely from the Independent State School Partnership.”

Union president Ben Sullivan said: “At a time in which fairness is at the top of the political agenda, and private schools are increasingly under public scrutiny, this debate will attempt to examine whether their impact on equality is offset by a wider benefit to society.

“Private school education is one of the most hotly debated issues in the student press and remains a highly controversial topic in Oxford life, so we can anticipate a very high degree of interest.”

Other speakers on the day will be: Colin Hall (headmaster of Holland Park School, London), Gareth Doodes (headmaster of George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh), Yassamine Mather (public school-educated member of the British Communist Party), Anthony Jones (headmaster of Robert College, Istanbul) and Kirill Makharinsky (Eton-educated Russian entrepreneur).

The Oxford Union was founded in 1823 to protect and uphold the principles of freedom of speech and debate in England at a time when they were under threat, it has grown to become the most prestigious student society in the world.