Interview: A day in the life of… Andrew Hammond

Hall School Wimbledon’s headmaster tells us about his life in and out of school

What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

I am motivated by the culture of our school – it is a vibrant, buzzing place in which to learn and work. As educators we are cultural champions and model learners. Much of what we teach our pupils is invisible, immeasurable, but we know that our positive impact reaches far beyond the measurable data. So, I guess you could say the enticing prospect of ‘making memories’ for our pupils is what gets me up and out of bed every morning.

What is the first thing you do when you start work each day?

I am on gate duty every morning. It is the best part of my day. I like to say good morning to every pupil (and teacher) when they arrive. Being greeted with a smile and an optimistic welcome as they enter the school gates is essential for children, if we want them to feel a sense of self-worth, which in turn leads to self-discipline and reaching their potential.

What is the best and most challenging aspect of your role?

The best part of my role is meeting with pupils and parents, understanding what makes them tick and building partnerships with our families, so that
together we can enable our pupils to flourish.

The most challenging aspect is managing my diary and prioritising my time – everything is important and everything is urgent, or so it seems!

What was your favourite subject at school?

English was my favourite subject at school, and it still is. I enjoy reading poetry and writing stories. Writing is a craft that brings me so much pleasure.

What are you currently reading?

I always have two books on the go. One is always a PG Wodehouse, the greatest wordsmith of them all.

The other book varies, but invariably it is a crime thriller. I have always admired Arthur Conan Doyle, and I was pleasantly surprised only recently when I found James Lovegrove’s latest books – he has dared to write sequels to Conan Doyle’s novels, and I believe he has accomplished this seemingly impossible feat very well. So, a new set of Sherlock Holmes adventures await me!

What has been your career highlight?

I was lucky enough to deliver a TED talk a couple of years ago, in which I made the case for placing culture before curriculum in schools. Distilling a lifetime’s interest in school culture into a 12-minute talk was a challenge, but a most satisfying one.

If you weren’t in this role, what would you be?

Teaching is a second career for me; I trained and worked in the legal profession before choosing to requalify as a teacher. So, if I wasn’t in this role, I would probably still be in that profession, specialising in family law. Or I would be writing full-time. I have been lucky enough to author over 30 titles for a range of publishers, but sitting in a shed by myself all day never really appealed. I like to be with people!

Andrew went to Solihull School and Ripon Grammar School. He has a BA (Hons) QTS degree from Bath Spa University and an MA from King’s College London. He has worked in schools for 25 years, serving as a headteacher in both the maintained and independent sectors, prior to which he was a deputy head, director of studies, housemaster, head of English and class teacher.

Andrew was senior director of learning and community at Discovery Education before joining Hall School Wimbledon as headmaster in November 2021.

Twitter: @hsw_school

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