ALL work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the old saying goes - and it’s a trap the new head master at Hipperholme Grammar School is determined not to fall into.
Mr Jack Williams, who this term took over at the helm of the 350-year-old school, makes time away from the head master’s office for his sporting passion - softball for which he is an umpire at national level.
The son of two head teachers, Mr Williams says there was a certain ‘genetic inevitability’ about his career path.
Brought up in Oldham, he taught chemistry at Leeds Grammar School, Magdelen College School, Oxford, and Hillcrest Grammar School in Stockport before coming to Hipperholme. At 38, he is relatively young to have taken over a headship but believes a mix of youth and experience are vital in the modern world of education.
At Hillcrest, where he was deputy headteacher, he was thrown into the deep end when the head became ill. Eventually he was promoted to the top job.
“It was a fairly quick rise and a steep learning curve but I enjoy a challenge and I’m delighted to have joined Hipperholme Grammar School at such an interesting time in education.
“I hope to be able to bring a number of new initiatives to benefit pupils, parents and staff alike while maintaining the aims and ethos which have made the school so successful.”
Mr Williams is keen to continue to teach. “Though my subject is chemistry, I love maths and I particularly enjoy helping pupils who are struggling with maths. I plan to keep on teaching whenever possible - it gives me a great opportunity to talk to the children and get to know them.”
Instant changes are not on Mr Williams’ agenda. “I know how important it is to maintain the ethos and traditions of the school. On my first day I asked the pupils to suggest one thing about the school they would change and one thing they would keep.
“I was staggered by the large number who said they wanted to keep the school song - even though it’s in latin and we don’t teach that here anymore!’
Mr Williams’ wife Anne also works in the independent education sector and he has a young son, Oliver.
Mad about music - whether it’s choral or pop - Mr Williams played softball in the Leeds league - one of the biggest in the country - before becoming an umpire for the sport.
The game is played along the same lines as baseball but with mixed teams and a ball that is thrown underarm rather than being ‘pitched’.
“The ball is harder than a cricket ball but it travels at 35 mph rather than 90 mph!” said Mr Williams.
“In the summer I travel all over the country umpiring games. I really enjoy it and I firmly believe in having an interest outside work. I know I work better when I’m feeling happy.”
But for now settling into the new job is his priority. “It’s not enough to be a head master, you also have to be a businessman and a chief executive.”