Anne Pithie, Marketing Manager, met with Ben who started his new job just two weeks ago, to talk to him about his new role and to get to know what's important to Ben both professionally and personally.
So, Ben, welcome to Haywards Heath College. Please can you start by telling us about yourself.
Firstly I want to say that I'm feeling very privileged to be the new Vice Principal for the college and I'm looking forward to September when we'll be welcoming our first students. I’ve worked in education for the last 20 years teaching A-level and BTEC, live in Brighton with my wife Toni, son (Fox – 3yrs) and daughter (Coco – 2yrs) and am terrible at talking about myself!
OK, but that's not how this interview thing works Ben! Being the Vice Principal, is a big job, how excited are you taking up the post?
I can’t wait to start working with students, we're working hard on developing everything they'll need to start in Year 12 supporting them to make a seamless transition to college.
I’ve been local to the area all my life and know how much a high achieving college is needed in Mid Sussex. I feel like history is repeating itself; my Mum and Dad are both teachers and my Dad actually taught at Haywards Heath when it was a Sixth Form College back in the 1980s. I learnt to swim in the outdoor pool there – no outdoor pool now, unfortunately, but we do now have a bat-house!
A bat-house! I can’t wait to see that! Whilst we are on the topic of buildings, how are all the works on-site going?
I visited last week, with the Principal, Paul and we came away like two excited school boys: it’s looking really good. The building is in a pretty good state already and the re-fit makes it really shine as there’re loads of new improvements going on. I was blown away by the sports hall, the science labs, the theatre (it’s got three dance/theatre studios!) and how brilliant the visual arts facilities are.
So it's all on track for September then?
Definitely – I’ll be moving into my office (with view of the bat-house!) at the start of August.
Apart from the facilities what else are you really excited about?
I am excited by the range of courses we're offering and the amazing teachers that we're appointing to teach them. I think the Friday enrichment day will offer something really different outside of the classroom. Being a former sports teacher, I can’t help but be a bit excited about the sports academies.
Ben, how do you spend your time when you’re not working? What are your passions in life?
I like lots of things: travel, playing guitar, listening to music, reading, and eating cereal!! I would say though, I am passionate about my family, sport (football, tennis, beach volleyball, surfing, swimming, cycling and pretty much anything else that is going) and education. Oh and almond croissants, they're a massive guilty pleasure!
How have you found the lock-down?
I think it's been tough, like most people, but I count myself very fortunate that my family are all well and we are managing to work and see lots of the kids. I have been trying to see the positives which I think is important and in some ways I like the simplicity of it; not feeling like you are missing out. Having less options can sometimes sharpen the focus on what you are doing.
Do you mind telling us us what have you been watching or reading lately?
Not at all, I've just finished reading ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear, which I liked as there are some good things that you could incorporate into what you are already doing. I loved watching ‘Afterlife’ with Ricky Gervais on Netlix – I am bit soppy at heart, so it was right up my street!
Thanks Ben for your time, do you have any last words for those joining in September?
My main tip would be to keep in touch with studying. I know it's a difficult time for Year 11s this year and college probably seems a long way off so completing the 'Getting Ready For' packs we've launched are a great way to help prepare for college.
I just want to finish by saying how much we're looking forward to seeing you in September and in the meantime look after those close to you and keep following your curiosity, wherever it might lead you.
You can follow Ben on his new Instagram page - hh_college_vp