Meet the 29-year-old headteacher of the new Academy
PUBLISHED: 11:50 17 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 07 September 2010
HE may be young, he may have just three years classroom experience, but Westminster's newest headteacher is full of big ideas. Oxford graduate Max Haimendorf, who is just 29, will take charge of the new King Solomon Academy when it opens in Lisson Grove
HE may be young, he may have just three years' classroom experience, but Westminster's newest headteacher is full of big ideas.
Oxford graduate Max Haimendorf, who is just 29, will take charge of the new King Solomon Academy when it opens in Lisson Grove next year.
The former biology student, pictured right, has flown up the ranks, after being one of the first to sign up to the Teach First scheme in 2003. The scheme takes top graduates straight to the classroom after just six weeks of intensive training.
Despite being the youngest headteacher ever hired to run an academy, Mr Haimendorf said he has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from parents.
"I've had lots of contact with lots of parents, and they don't concentrate on my age. All they want to hear about is how I can deliver for their children," he said.
Mr Haimendorf began his short career at Uxbridge High School - a "traditional comprehensive" - before quickly rising to head of year where he was responsible for 180 pupils.
He will steer just 60 students at the King Solomon which, as a brand new academy, will open with only six Year 7 classes next September.
He said he hopes to introduce radical new measures such as a longer school day starting at 8am and finishing at 5pm.
"To make more progress, we need to do more work - it's that simple," he said. "We want our pupils to develop mastery of English and maths, so they can in turn get more out of their other subjects.
"A longer day also means we can incorporate extra-curricular activities, so that the children who wouldn't normally get involved with after-school activities get access to them.
"Often it is the children who are the least likely to get involved who are the ones who actually need them the most."
Mr Haimendorf said being thrown in at the deep end with Teach First had prepared him for the challenges he will face.
"It's very clear from the start that it's going to be a very big challenge," he said. "It requires a lot of you, and takes a certain level of confidence and intellectual capacity to make an impact from day one. The whole point of the programme is that you want to do more than just cope - you want to excel."
And in striving to excel, he said the biggest motivator was encouraging pupils to look beyond their horizons. At Uxbridge, he mentored the first pupil at the school to ever be accepted to Oxbridge.
But the National Union of Teachers has warned that the Teach First scheme may not give adequate preparation for the role of head.
Westminster NUT secretary Padraic Finn said: "Obviously with senior appointments we would expect a strong background in teaching and knowledge of the classroom. Experience of the private sector doesn't always translate into good heads.
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