The independent London newspaper

Hampstead Secondary School in search for new headteacher

Camden's longest-serving secondary school head plans retirement

04 March, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

CAMDEN’S largest secondary school is looking to hire its first new headteacher in nearly a decade and a half.

Jacques Szemalikowski – the longest-serving secondary headteacher currently in post in Camden – is retiring from Hampstead School in Westbere Road, West Hampstead, after 14 years in charge.

The school, whose alumni include novelist Zadie Smith, comic rapper Doc Brown and actress Sadie Frost, has consistently been rated “good” by Ofsted inspectors during his time.

Mr Szemalikowski, who is credited by the governing body for being “a leader in curriculum development and student well-being”, has had a lively tenure at Hampstead School. In 2011, the school hit the headlines when the New Journal revealed that students were being asked to study the “Sachsgate” scandal which saw Jonathan Ross lose his job at the BBC for broadcasting messages left on Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs’ voicemail system.

“I think it is a totally appropriate thing to be doing,” said Mr Szemalikowski. “We are in the real world and children live in the real world. “The unit is all about how people react to lang uage and the limits of freedom of expression and this was a very famous snippet. It’s all about interpretation.”

More controversially, the school found itself in a censorship row in 2103 when a student who created a Private Eye-style blog about the school, The Hampstead Trash, was reported to the police, and universities he hoped to study at were alerted to his work.

Governors are now in the process of finding Mr Szemalikowski’s successor in the job, which commands a salary of at least £84,000 a year. Interviews will be held later this month to find a candidate who will take over the reins for the start of the next academic year in September.

More than 1,300 pupils are currently at the school.

“This is a rare and exciting opportunity for the right individual to take responsibility for building on the impressive legacy of our current head, who is retiring after 14 years, and to bring their own personality and vision to the role,” the governors said in their job advert. “We are looking for an inspirational, experienced and successful leader who will champion our drive for continuous improvement.”

In his own assessment of the school, Mr Szemalikowski said: “Hampstead School is a very successful, dynamic and happy school. “We are very proud of what we have achieved, never complacent and with a genuine and positive determination to become exceptional in all areas. We relish our challenges, being fortunate in our excellent, committed and enthusiastic staff, all of whom work together for the benefit of our students.”

Share this story

Post a comment