Since its foundation in 1502, The King's School in Macclesfield has had 31 headmasters, but none more transformative than Dr Simon Hyde who steps down leaving a magnificent new £60 million campus.
A Maxonian, who went to Park Royal Primary, before joining King's as an 11-year-old in 1975, Simon has completed a transformation of King's inside and outside the classroom. His legacy will remain as King's progresses through the centuries ahead.
A studious pupil, Simon was inspired to read History at Christ Church, Oxford by his teachers and developed a deep-rooted interest in Germany. "I loved school trips to Germany run by my wonderful German teacher Simon Skeens, sadly no longer with us, so when I got to Oxford I decided to specialise in German history."
After completing his doctorate, Simon fell in love with teaching after he was asked to do some part-time temping at Stowe School as an A Level History teacher. "I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience and for me there was no alternative. I was going to be a teacher."
He began his career at Loughborough Grammar, moving to Oakham School in Rutland three years later, promoted to Head of Department after one term. After seven years, he applied for and got his first 'dream job' in a new role as Deputy Head at Haberdashers’ Aske’s in Elstree, Hertfordshire, tasked to modernise pedagogy, teacher training, the use of technology and the curriculum.
It was perfect preparation for his second 'dream job' and a return to King's in 2011 as its leader. "I was a little worried as my family are all in the area and I wondered what might happen if it all went horribly wrong!"
His impact was immediate with a significant improvement in academic results. "I wouldn't like to take credit for that because I was building on the progress made by my predecessor and all the hard work that had been done, but there were some important early changes."
"First and foremost, I wanted to change the pupils' mindset. They were talented but perhaps too modest. If a pupil could get an A grade then why not strive to get an A star? I wanted to show them it was worth the extra effort.
"What was wonderful was that I found a teaching staff champing at the bit to give their pupils higher aspirations and to embrace new technology and methods."
"I was an early advocate of flipped learning, which works particularly well for history and politics. It meant relegating chalk and talk (the teacher feeding information for the pupils to take notes and learn by rote), but rather allowing them to complete the initial research, make their own notes from my suggested template so as to leave more time for discussion and analysis it class.
"I wanted more lively, more thoughtful classrooms which embraced all that new technology has to offer."
His most important challenge, however, was to secure the school's future on a single site. "In an ideal world, we wanted a single site large enough for the whole school funded in part from the sales and redevelopment of our current sites. Given concerns about the Green Belt, it seemed obvious to me that building on sustainable sites close to the town centre would help regenerate Macclesfield as well as providing homes.”
"Saying it and doing it were, of course, two very different concepts. It was then that the King's community came to the fore. We owe an enormous debt to former pupils, who have helped us immeasurably. It has taken an immense amount of hard work and planning from so many people, most notably our Bursar, Jonathan Spencer-Pickup and Chairs of Governors Arthur Dicken and John Kennerley. It will offer a fabulous 80-acre site with world class educational facilities."
Simon has now secured “possibly my last 'dream job' as the Secretary of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC)."