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Richard Whitman
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Portrayed by Nicholas Gleaves
First Appearance Series 7 Episode 5
Last Appearance Series 7 Episode 10
Relationships

Richard Whitman is the Director of Education for Rochdale Council.

The main antagonist during the first part of Series 7, Richard believes the poor performance of Waterloo Road is making him and his LEA look less successful. He therefore has a personal vendetta against Karen Fisher and her inclusive policies, similarly to Max Tyler’s vendetta against Rachel Mason in the first half of Series 5. He is determined to improve his image by closing down Waterloo Road, or at least ousting Karen. Unlike Max, however (who Rachel managed to expose and finally get rid of), Richard is successful in forcing Karen to resign in Episode 10.

Richard is invited to the school for the opening of the community café. He is already disappointed by the students’ behavior as he walks through the school, but seeing the mess that Shona Mansfield made in the café, and the protest that Shona’s nan Bette staged outside, leads him to firmly believe that the school is being poorly managed.

He notices English teacher and former Conservative councillor Eleanor Chaudry, someone he has clearly met before, is working at the school. So, he enlists her to 'spy' on the school for him and give him insider information whenever something happens that could bring the school, and Karen, into disrepute.

As Eleanor begins to fit in more in the staffroom, and develops a brief romance with Tom Clarkson, she realizes that their jobs and livelihoods would be at stake if Waterloo Road were to be closed. But by the time she tells Richard she will no longer be helping him, he has already served the school with a warning notice.

After getting some support from the LEA, Waterloo Road is not immediately closed, but is subject to an independent inspection at short notice. The staff desperately rush to prepare lessons that will impress the inspectors. But, due to an undermining of authority by Chris Mead when he goes in pursuit of a pupil he believes correctly to be in serious danger, Richard jumps at the opportunity for Karen to get suspended. The pupils and staff (including Eleanor) however, launch a protest from the top of the school roof, exposing Richard’s unprofessional attack on the school. He leaves the school with egg on his face both literally and figuratively; Kyle Stack threw an egg at him from the roof of the school.

Though Waterloo Road is not closed down, Karen resigns anyway, taking Jess and Harry with her. New headmaster Michael Byrne joins from Episode 11.

This is the last that is seen of Richard, and it is later revealed that there is a new Director of Education at the LEA. The circumstances surrounding his departure are not known, including whether the happenings of this episode played a role.

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