Introducing Justin Stanley: a Q&A with our new Headmaster


Wednesday 4th September will not only mark the beginning of the 2019/20 academic year but will also see Mr Justin Stanley begin his role as Headmaster of Hymers College.

Learn more about Mr Stanley, his background and ambitions for the school, below:

How excited are you to be here at Hymers College?
I’m hugely excited. The chance to lead one of the great schools in the North of England is a huge responsibility, and a huge privilege. The moment I set foot on the school grounds at interview, I was struck by the sense of energy and excitement that this place has, so I’m really looking forward to being part of that community. 

Can you tell us a bit about you?
I was lucky enough to get an 11 Plus County Scholarship to Stanford School. I then went on to study Classics at Cambridge, where I played quite a lot of rugby and sang there. 

My first teaching job was at Manchester Grammar School, I then became Head of Classics at Nottingham High School, and went back to Manchester Grammar School. Since then, I’ve done 10 years as Deputy Head, overseeing the academic life at Hereford Cathedral School.

It’s a big change moving from Hereford Cathedral School to Hymers, isn't it? 
Yes, they are very different but I really believe that the experience I’ve had at Hereford Cathedral School, has broadened my sense of independent education and will only serve me well when I come into post at Hymers. 

Why did you want to be a Headmaster?
Good Headmasters shape lives. I fully believe in the transformative value of education and the chance to lead a great school like Hymers College, and represent it in the wider community is one I couldn’t pass up.

What sort of Headmaster do you want to be?
I want to be a visible presence. The pupils, parents and staff will see me in the corridors, they’ll see me on the touchlines watching the sport, they’ll see me watching the plays in the concert hall. It’s important that I’m a role model for everyone within the school community in terms of how I conduct myself and how I interact with everyone. It’s important that I’m a champion for the many different things that are going on within Hymers College and the very big, high-profile events and activities - and perhaps those that are less well-known about, as well.

What do you think are the immediate challenges that you face?
I’ve got to take time to get to know the school and its context, to establish myself with all the stakeholders, the pupils, the parents, the staff, the governors, the alumni. And to really ensure that I identify those things that are absolutely excellent that we must maintain, but also identify those things that are very good - but perhaps we could make even better if we refined them. 

What are you looking forward to the most on the slightly longer time scale?
I guess a sense that I’m doing a good job in terms of leading one of the North’s great schools. I really want to ensure that I’m doing the very best possible job I can for the pupils within the school, whilst promoting the school and independent education - as a whole - in the wider community and in the East Riding and the Humber area. 

What do you do for fun, to relax, just for you?
I jog very slowly and very steadily. I did the marathon a long time ago, and I’d like to think that I’ve got another marathon or two in me. I’m often in the garden kicking the ball around with my boys or playing netball with my daughter. I really do enjoy that sort of thing. I probably watch too many box sets of things like Killing Eve and Spiral, the French police drama. So, I relax in those sorts of ways really. 

How did your family react when they found out they may be moving to Hull?
We’ve been in Hereford for 10 years, so it came as a surprise. But I’ve got to say, my three children were blown away by the warmth of the welcome they received on their induction day. They were struck by how friendly everyone was. It is undoubtedly a big move for them and for our family, but I genuinely believe it will be a great one for them. They’re quite excited about the move now and they’re looking forward to getting to know a different part of the country.

What was the last book you read?
I’m currently reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, ‘Becoming’, and it seems to me that it’s got important messages from an inspirational figure about hard work, determination and aspiration; I’m really enjoying it. 

What was the last piece of music you downloaded?
A guilty pleasure I was The Killers’ greatest hits album after their latest Glastonbury performance.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Viktor Frankl, the Austrian concentration camp survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist, said that everyone has to find their true meaning and purpose in life. The older I get, the more sensible and wise that piece of advice sounds. 

I also remember listening to an assembly not so long ago, where the message from someone was  “blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make your own brighter”. I think that was a really important message for the children and the staff in the room to realise that we all depend on each other, we’re all better for supporting each other, and that teamwork in a school like Hymers College is essential.

What are you dreading most about day one at Hymers College?
In all honesty there’s nothing I’m really dreading. I guess it’s the anticipation, but with a community like this of over a thousand people, it’s a hugely exciting, vibrant and energetic environment; I can’t wait to be part of it.