Class act


EXG MAR 14 MTH - Credit: Archant

Having exited the stage and entered the classroom, Andrew Hampton, headteacher of Thorpe Hall School, now helps to put his pupils’ skills in the spotlight

If you hadn’t become a teacher, what do you think you would have done instead?

I was an actor for a few years in my 20s – I spent time on the West End stage and on TV. I always wanted to be a teacher, but I guess I might have stayed in show business as an actor, musician and composer. I was also interested in human resources as a young man and I would have enjoyed a career in business looking after people’s welfare I think.

Who would you most like to have as a pupil, if you could pick anyone?

The quality I most value – and therefore promote – in young people is the willingness to get stuck in to anything and everything the school has to offer, with an open heart and fearless commitment. Harry Potter embodies those qualities admirably.

Was there any type of school dinner that you couldn’t stand?

I really don’t like liver and not many schools cook it well either. It is not offered at Thorpe Hall, which is a good thing. I was at Winchester College as a boy and the food was passable – except for the liver.

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Was there ever one subject you wish you could have missed?

Not really. The shape and structure of the current curriculum in the UK can be hard to justify in some ways – it would be nice to see a more vocational emphasis. But, having said that, it does work and the subjects pupils are required to study do seem to prepare young people well for adult life.

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what’s the first thing you’d do?

I would ban the Secretary of State for Education from making any significant changes to education for at least five years. What a vote winner that would be among teachers and heads. We have the finest education system in the world in the UK, as witnessed by the thousands of overseas pupils who attend our boarding schools. Politicians should leave us alone to get on with the job and not assume they know best – they don’t.

Which record would you want with you if you were marooned on a desert island?

Making me choose just one is simply cruel and unreasonable, so I’m going to choose one from three genres. Pop: All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople. Jazz: Moanin’ by Charlie Mingus. Classical: Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

What one thing would you want to see disappear from this world?

School league tables. They have done untold damage to schools and the way the public understands what education is for. League tables continue to distort what happens in the classroom in an unhelpful way and yet do not actually provide the kind of accountability politicians say they are looking for.

Is there a television programme that you make sure you never miss?

Mad Men is simply the best TV drama I have ever seen and continues to entertain and delight me even after six seasons.

What is your favourite film of all time and why?

I am not a huge fan of watching films more than once, but I do still enjoy watching Four Weddings and a Funeral as well as Love Actually – especially at Christmas. I am also a big fan of the work of Steven Poliakoff.

How do you relax away from work?

I enjoy both golf and sailing and they keep me busy in the summer. Otherwise I am a keen saxophone player and composer; I play in local bands and regularly publish music for single reed players.

What is special about your school?

Pupils leave Thorpe Hall as people worthy of respect, demonstrating integrity and responsibility, and who have the courage to stand up for what is right. We are a school teeming with opportunity and the chance to experience a huge range of activities both in the classroom and outside. We do this with excellent facilities and small class sizes, but – and this really is remarkable – at a price point that is well below the regional and national average for day schools. Finally, our academic results are excellent.

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