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HEAD Space with Downside School

Family man Andrew Hobbs, Head of Downside School, on unconditional acceptance and his passion for teaching…

Who or what inspired you to teach?
Initially it was the prospect of another year at Cambridge and studying for a PGCE gave me that extra year! The inspiration bit came a bit later and I owe a lot to some exceptional colleagues and pupils.

Do you have an all-time favourite book?
Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. It is set in pre-1950s South Africa riven by racial injustice, but depicts the remarkable dignity and courage of man.

What sort of music do you listen to? Favourite piece or song?
It completely depends on my mood or situation. It’s hard to beat Lynard Skynard’s Sweet Home Alabama, but then again so is Bach’s Chaconne from Partita in D minor.

Favourite play or musical?
The Bacchae by Euripides. Greek tragedy at its best and an extraordinary insight into human nature.

What is your personal motto in life?
Love your neighbour.

If you could only bring three things to a desert island what would they be?
A drum kit, the Downside Hymn Book, the poems of Catullus. (I take it I’ve already got the Bible and the works of Shakespeare).

Who would your five ideal dinner guests be (famous, living or dead)?
My wife and our four children. There is nothing I enjoy more than the chance to eat together
as a family.

Greatest all time movie?
Top Gun.

Any signature dishes?
Spaghetti Bolognese

If you weren’t headmaster, what would your dream job be?
Teacher. There can be nothing more rewarding than teaching. In the words of Tim Minchin ‘Even if you aren’t a teacher, be a teacher!’

Top three apps on your phone?
WhatsApp, Spotify, Pray as you Go.

What were your favourite subjects at school?
Greek and Latin,which opened my eyes to the classical world. Being able to compare and contrast this with the world of today is invaluable for maintaining perspective.

Why in your opinion if your school best?
As a school rooted in the principles of the Gospel and the Rule of St. Benedict, pupils feel accepted and valued unconditionally. This means they can grow and develop in confidence to achieve their best and support others to do the same.

What three things do you need to be a successful headmaster?
Integrity, humility and, most importantly, a sense of humour.

Love getting an insight into what goes on in a Head’s head?! Then why not see if yours has featured yet in our HEAD Space series


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