The Headmaster of Wisbech Grammar School talks to KL magazine about life at the school, his vision for the future, and his love of history…
KL MAGAZINE: How long have you been teaching?
NICK HAMMOND: I started teaching in 1994 at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College in Edinburgh. I moved to Wisbech in the summer of 2008. Along the way I’ve worked in boarding and day education in the Highlands of Scotland, Ely and Bristol.
KL MAGAZINE: What made you decide to become a teacher in the first place?
NICK HAMMOND: While I was at university I decided that I wanted to do a job that was connected with my studies – I also enjoyed sport, and teaching seemed to be a good way of staying in touch with both. I did some work experience while I was at university and this confirmed that teaching was for me. I come from a family of teachers, so no one else was hugely surprised by this as a career choice!
KL MAGAZINE: What’s your specialist subject?
NICK HAMMOND: I have a degree in Archaeology with a specialism in the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Since I’ve been teaching I’ve developed a particular interest in the Middle Ages, specifically the crusading movement and its effects on Europe and the Middle East. That said, I’m also a great fan of Renaissance History. Like many historians, I’m a jack of all trades; the past is far too fascinating a place to limit oneself to a single particular subject!
KL MAGAZINE: What’s the subject or fact you think we all should know?
NICK HAMMOND: Unsurprisingly, I think that we should all study history! The English educational system is unusual in that it pays little attention to history. In many other countries, the study of history is compulsory at least until 16 and in many cases until 18. As for a fact, I’d say the most important fact for everyone to know is that if we don’t learn from history we are condemned to repeat our mistakes.
KL MAGAZINE: What do you like best about your job?
NICK HAMMOND: The sheer variety of activity in a school makes it a fascinating place to work. Being involved with bright, motivated students means I have to stay on my toes and it’s always great to see them fulfill their potential. I’m also fortunate to have a highly committed group of staff as colleagues – they’re an enormously talented bunch of people who constantly push themselves to new heights.
KL MAGAZINE: How would you describe Wisbech Grammar School?
NICK HAMMOND: Wisbech Grammar School is a school with great ambition that wants to play a meaningful role in the life of the local community. We are unpretentious, academically rigorous and we learn with an element of fun. The school is fortunate to have a strong identity born from the twin heritages of Wisbech High School and Wisbech Grammar School – we are both proud of our past and focused on the future.
KL MAGAZINE: Tell us something unique about the school…
NICK HAMMOND: As a school, we’re fortunate in that we are truly independent. This means that we have the opportunity to free ourselves from restrictive educational thinking. Our approach to the curriculum is centred on the pupil, rather than being part of a wider process defined by exam league table position. We are still able to enjoy teaching our subjects and along the way take exams, rather than slavishly employing an approach solely focused on exam results. As a result, our pupils learn and achieve the best results in the region.
KL MAGAZINE: What would we find you doing when you’re not in the classroom?
NICK HAMMOND: Sadly I spend far too much time in my office rather than in the classroom! When I’m not in school I am a keen cyclist. I’m also an avid reader of a variety of different genres.
KL MAGAZINE: What’s the best thing about the area we live in?
NICK HAMMOND: The sheer variety of all that is around us. We have fantastic towns filled with stunning architecture and fascinating history. Our countryside is varied, from the majestic skies of Fenland to the rugged beauty of the North Norfolk coast. As a real ale fan I’d also have to say that Elgood’s beer is a particular benefit of living in Wisbech!
KL MAGAZINE: What’s your vision for the future of Wisbech Grammar School?
NICK HAMMOND: The school has been in existence since 1379 and has provided the town and region with a high quality of education for the best part of 700 years. We have a nationally recognised bursary programme which allows a greater range of students access to the school than is normally the case for an independent school. The vision is a simple one – to keep doing more of the same and working with pupils and their parents to realise their potential and equip them for life in the 21st century.
WISBECH GRAMMAR SCHOOL
North Brink, Wisbech Cambs PE13 1JX
Tel: 01945 583631