Physicist Jason Slack says he is ready for the unprecedented challenges that come with his appointment as The King's School's new Head of Foundation.
"King's relocating to a brand new £60 million campus and at the same time becoming fully coeducational for the first time in its 518-year history are historic events in themselves, but now there is the additional challenge of a return to school for our 1200 pupils while still managing the Covid pandemic."
Born into a Yorkshire mining family, Jason is not one to duck a challenge. "My grandfather was a miner and my uncles worked down the pit and I am proud of the mental and physical resilience that runs in our family, but I am also proud that I broke free from that tradition of working in the mines. In fact, I was the first member of our family to go to university."
A talented academic and athlete at Batley Grammar School, Jason attended Durham University where he got an upper second in Physics. Jason then stayed in Durham to take his PGCE. His first teaching appointment was as a Physics teacher at King Henry VIII School in Coventry, where he would later return as Headmaster. Three years after starting at Henry’s, Jason joined The Grange in Northwich, first as Head of Physics and then as Head of Science.
Two toddlers later (daughters Holly and Grace), Jason and his wife Lindsay moved back to Jason’s roots, and he was appointed as Deputy Head of Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Wakefield, "ever thankful for the support of the grandparents." Five years later in 2010, the family moved back to the Midlands, Jason now leader of the innovative, coeducational King Henry VIII School.
Now it's The King's School in Macclesfield and joining "what is clearly a highly aspirational school looking very much to the future."
"That forward thinking drive and ambition is very attractive to me. As can be seen from the new campus, the King's governors and staff have an extremely positive outlook which matches my own philosophy. They want to do the very best they can for every King's pupil and ensure they have a better education at King's than they would do anywhere else. That's the challenge that matters the most."
"What needs addressing in the short term is opening our doors in September while managing the Covid-19 situation and addressing any effects of the interruption to education caused by the period of lockdown.”
In the longer term, Jason aims to develop further King's reputation for academic success and a holistic education, in which providing opportunities outside the classroom have the same priority as ensuring outstanding academic results inside the classroom.
"At King Henry VIII School we have worked hard to develop resilience and mental strength in our pupils, providing not only overt lessons but trying to assist and work with parents to ensure their children can rise to the challenges of the modern world. A good education very much means working in partnership with parents to achieve the same end; namely a child that is well equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead."
A skilled musician, Jason played violin in the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra. He is also an outdoor pursuits enthusiast who is relishing being near the Peak District and a former school boy county triple jump champion. Jason wants to take a full part in King's renowned extra-curricular life.
"We must provide as many opportunities as possible and be able to foster any talent or passion that our pupils may want to develop.” In his spare time, "There isn't much," he shrugs, "I love hiking in the hills and enjoy my sport”, adding sheepishly, "I am a Leeds United fan, which might not be that popular this side of the Pennines, but it's my club and we are back in the big time. That's how I feel about King's, it's the big time."