CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Meet the new headteacher (and father)

Matt Sadler worked at Hampstead School as a newly qualified teacher ten years ago

22 October, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Matt Sadler has started as headteacher at Hampstead School with Covid-19 safety measures in place

THE new headteacher at Camden’s largest secondary school is juggling his new role with the arrival of a new baby.

Matt Sadler has taken over the top job at Hampstead School in Westbere Road – where he began his career as a newly qualified teacher 10 years ago.

It looks slightly different this time around. Not only is he now the headteacher, but all schools are having to try and carry on with a raft of Covid-19 safety measures.

And since August he has done a bit of teaching of new things at home after the arrival of his baby girl.

“I have been doing late nights for work and late nights for the baby. But she’s a good baby and has been doing her bit,” he told the New Journal.

“When I got the job the first time around, it felt like a natural fit with my ethos and beliefs in education. The students here are curious and have that sort of interest and enthusiasm when it comes to learning.

“I thought coming back it might have changed but it has stayed the same. I have had long conversations with students at the school gates about gender and how it fits in with other identities. It is inter­esting and challenging.”

He added: “A rich curriculum and things like debating clubs help bring students confidence in school but outside of school too. It’s a truly comprehen­sive school and it’s truly diverse. You get lots of different ideas in one setting.”

Mr Sadler was an assistant head at a school in Chiswick and deputy head at a school in Sutton before rejoining Hampstead.

He took over from the outgoing Jacques Szemalikowski, one of Camden’s longest-serving heads who had been at Hampstead School since 2006 until his retirement over the summer. The school has had two confirmed coronavirus cases since the return to class last month.

But Mr Sadler said: “So much focus has been placed on preparing for September reopening. It’s been a really positive experience. I have been blown away by the resilience of the staff and students.

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

Last year Mr Szemalikowski defended the school’s “robust response” to rule breaking after statistics showed the school approved 815 temporary exclusions over five years up to 2016-17.

Mr Sadler said: “We always look to avoid a high exclusion rate. It is partly about having more systems of internal response and doing work with students in school. “It is necessary to have a robust response, but we would look to continue work in reducing FTEs.”

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