Inspirational Headmasters: The King’s School


Dr Tim Hawkes, headmaster, The King’s School

What made you want to enter teaching?

I was attracted to teaching because of the enormous privilege it gives in allowing you to impact the lives of others. There is a great deal of satisfaction in shaping the next generation. I also enjoy teaching and challenges such as turning last period on Friday afternoon into something of spellbinding interest, finding the lost school bag and getting your centre forward to kick straight.

What do you like most about working in a school?

The most enjoyable thing is the interaction between students and teachers. In the end, schools are about teaching and learning. However, the required learning should be more than the ordained curriculum pushed out by various government agencies. The role of a school is not to prepare a student for an exam but to prepare them for life. This broad educational canvas makes working in a school intriguing.

What are some of the changes to education that you have witnessed in your time as headmaster?

The main changes to education have occurred in the area of information technology. This has revolutionised schools because they have had to adjust from being centres of teaching to centres of learning. Teaching is typically something that is done by a teacher. Learning is something that is acquired by a student. Therefore, schools have had to change from institutions that transmit knowledge to organisations that empower students. This makes it imperative for schools to adopt an enquiry-based model of teaching that sees teachers creating a sense of wonder so that the student is motivated to learn. With advances in ICT, this adventure in learning can occur in the home as well as the school.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the satisfaction that comes from leading a school community. There are students, teachers, parents, alumni, support staff, boarding staff, drivers, grounds staff, government agencies, the media, 17 steers, 20 chooks, and an assortment of pet animals whose needs must be met.

What are some special achievements of your staff, students and the school that you are most proud of?

There are far too many schools that describe themselves as “leading schools” but have done little to deserve this claim. Far too many are replicating what is done in other schools and are indistinguishable except by virtue of geographical location. I believe it is important for schools, particularly well-resourced schools such as my own, to make a strong contribution to educational debate. We have endeavoured to do this at King’s in four areas:

  • We have built a research laboratory that currently hosts a dozen scientists who engage in cutting-edge bio-medical research in areas such as Crohn’s disease. The scientists undertake some of this research with my students. That means the school is playing a small part in improving the standard of living for many people.
  • * Being a boys’ school we have researched best practices in boys’ education. This has led to the school publishing several books on this topic, becoming an advisor to the Federal government in this area and hosting the biennial National Conference on Boys’ Education for the past 12 years.
  • As a boarding school as well as a day school, we found the quality of training for boarding staff throughout Australia to be inadequate. With increased duty-of-care responsibilities, enhanced compliance legislation and schools being seen as lucrative legal targets, it was essential to improve the quality of training given to boarding staff. Therefore, King’s wrote the Duty of Care course that has become the major training course for boarding staff in Australia.
  • In a world that hungers for authentic leadership, we have endeavoured to train students to make a positive contribution to society. The style of leadership taught at King’s is a servant-hearted model of leadership which sees students taking the initiative rather than being mere voyeurs. The school has written and published the most extensive student leadership course used in Australia. We have also built a leadership studies centre. We enjoy sharing this facility with many outside groups who are also interested in promoting leadership skills in the young.

What hopes do you have for the future of your school?

My hope for The King’s School is that it should continue to be a school that prepares students to tread the world stage with confidence. Our multi-cultural makeup helps a great deal in this regard. I also hope the strong academic culture is maintained and that the school is successful in fostering a lifelong love of learning. It is also my hope that King’s continues to support its various schools and charitable organisations overseas.

What is your motto for running a successful school?

It is impossible for a headmaster to undertake all the tasks associated with running a school. For this reason, it is essential to have a well-trained team that has the skills necessary to deal with finance, teaching and learning, buildings and grounds, marketing, enrolments, and a host of other things that need to be managed. Once this senior team is in place, they need to be equipped, enthused and encouraged.

To learn more about The King’s School, click here, to be taken to their Schools Choice profile.

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