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New head of Kings' School: first interview
MEET the man on a mission to get to know each and every pupil at his school – the largest comprehensive in Winchester.
That’s 1,658 children at the last count.
Matthew Leeming, who says that education while important should also be fun, is the new head teacher of Kings’ School.
The 46-year-old father-of-two took the helm in September after working as head at Crofton School in Stubbington for six years where he knew about a third of the 1,100 pupils by name.
Now he is getting to know Kings’ pupils by taking each tutorial group for a PHSE (personal health and social education) lesson.
He said: “I have seen almost all year 11, about half of year 10 and a handful of younger ones. I think it is important each pupil feels known.
“I get the children to write me a postcard to tell me things they are most proud of, that is unusual about them and how they are going to change the world.
“They place the postcard inside an envelope which I read and then seal to give back to them on the day they leave. I feel, especially for the younger year groups, it will be like a postcard from their younger selves.”
So what is unusual about Mr Leeming and how is he going to change the world? Perhaps surprisingly, he confesses to disliking his school days and said if told at 16 he was going to become a teacher, “would have run away in horror.”
He said: “I went to a posh, fee-paying boarding school – Westminster School.” Academically able, he took his A levels a year early but says he felt rushed through and wasn’t ready socially.
Mr Leeming spent a year in the Royal Navy before going to university and training as a teacher. He began his career teaching geography in Liverpool and has worked at six schools.
Asked how he was going to change the world, he said: “By being a teacher. You never know who is going to come through.”
But for now he is not planning any radical changes at Kings’ rated “outstanding” by three successive Ofsted inspections, and where 83 per cent of pupils achieved five GCSEs at grades A* to C, including maths and English. The school is also known for its strict uniform policy and sporting success.
He said: “Kings’ is a successful school and so my first priority is to ‘do no harm.” There are no plans to become an academy, for example.
Mr Leeming says one of the reasons he wanted to work at Kings’ was because it is a happy school and “not the exam factory,” it is sometimes said to be.
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