An Interview With… Mr Henshaw

Kicking off the first "An Interview With…" series we decided to start at the top. Being 3 minutes late to our interview we stumbled in finding Mr Henshaw behind his desk waiting for us.

What are your future plans for Post 16?

The first thing I wanted to do was create a Post 16 leadership team and I was told when I first started here that it wouldn’t happen, there would be no students interested. So, we are doing it now and I want to put that team in place so that they can be a direct link between the sixth form and myself and my leadership team so that we can see what needs to go on and what is happening. Also if there are any issues that we need to be aware of and for them to take part and become a part of the student voice.

Have you got any exciting events planned for Post 16?

Exciting events? Not specifically for Post 16 but if the leadership team come up with any ideas for special events then let’s see whether or not we can make that happen. I’m hoping that we can get a core of Year 13’s and then Year 12’s that get interested and become the "shadow" team so that when the Year 13’s start their exams they can take over and the Year 13’s can focus on their exams. The Year 13’s can "shadow them up" and eventually step into their roles.

How are you enjoying it at Minsthorpe?

I love it! I’m a great believer in fate, this is the second job that I applied for at this level and I think I didn’t get the first one because I was always going to get this one. And I think all of the things I have done in my career were now probably, looking back, designed to bring me here. I think the choices I’ve made and the direction that I have taken just made me an ideal fit for this college. I absolutely love it, this is my last job.

What are the best and worst things about your job?

I think the best thing is that, I guess, I can do what I think is right now, not what other people have told me to do. This doesn’t mean I’m always right but now I have the freedom to do so. Now there’s nobody above me to tell me what to do. Well that’s the part I do like but the part I don’t like is telling people what they can’t do. There is always going to be bad news, telling people that they can’t do that and that I can’t promote them even if I wanted to. So it’s tough but I do love it and I thought I would grow to love it because it was quite scary as a deputy because before I had someone to hide behind and say that it was their decision not mine. There was always that fear coming to a job where nobody knew me. I’ve enjoyed it from day one, through even the tough times, because I learn things about myself and things I had to solve and you learn something more about yourself.

Where and what did you study?

I studied at Leicester for my degree and my post-grad. I did a combined honours degree because I knew I was going to teach from when I was about 13 or 14. So I wanted a degree that gave me a wide range of subjects. My main subjects were English Literature and History and I actually started out life as a History teacher even though I haven’t taught it for donkey’s years! As part of that I also did things like Economics, Social History, and Ancient History and things like Psychology and Sociology which complimented the History and the English course. I loved it because it was like a mixture of subjects rather than doing a straight degree. I then stayed on at Leicester and did my post-grad at that university as well.

Any advice for future university students?

You’ve got to make sure you enjoy your experience because it will be the time of your life for sure but you have also got to prepare yourself for it because I don’t think that A-Level students realise how much work there is. I was definitely like that. At A-Level I was getting on really well but I didn’t realise how much extra reading there would be and stepping up to another level. You have to discipline yourself but still have a great time. Although it’s not just 3 years of fun and that’s why most people drop out in the first year, it’s striking a balance. You should take advantage of that opportunity, it’s your first time living away from home; it’s quite testing but it’s a great experience.

What’s your best life experience?

If I didn’t say getting married my wife would probably kill me. It was one of the best days of my life, it was the sort of day when you laughed all day long. It was a beautiful day, beautiful weather, all of our close friends around so yes, I think that was my best life experience.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Barbados. My wife’s brother has a restaurant out there so every couple of years we go out, we don’t stay with her family because I think that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s a chance for us to touch base with them. I adore it, I love the people and the laid back lifestyle and the climates fantastic.

Who’s your role model?

I guess one of the most influential people of my life is my old Maths teacher called Mr Right-side, I mean I was only 12 and he looked like a huge mountain of a man to me. If he wanted to punish you he would clear an aisle down the middle of the class room, like a run way, and he would draw a cross on your trousers with chalk and he would run at you with a plimsoll and if you got a white chalk imprint then he had punished you but if he didn’t he do it again. That makes him sound like an absolute head case but he rarely did that, well they could in those days. You used to get caned and the slipper.

If you were the last one in you would often get hit with a metal ruler but with him, what turned me onto teaching was that he knew that I was a fan of the "Dirty Harry" Series at about 14 when Magnum Force was coming out and he knew that I was a fan of Magnum Revolvers and there was the Clint Eastwood thing saying "it’s the most powerful thing in the world" (cue impression) "if you feel lucky punk." One day he asked me if I wanted to join him and my Geography teacher because they were members of the ‘Portsmouth Armoury’ and we can go and shoot some guns. So there was me with a 457 Magnum Shotgun which is so powerful and I just had fun with these teachers and for the first time ever I realised that they were actual people and that never occurred to me. And that’s probably the point when I realised that I could do this. I think we remember our teachers not because of their well-planned lessons, you remember them because they took an interest in you and I think that was a real important moment for me.

What do you do in your spare time?

I swim a lot, every morning. I play golf, not as well as I used to but…

What’s your handicap?

It’s 18, I don’t really play properly just on a weekend. I enjoy reading and love going to the pictures. Just general sort of stuff really.

Who’s your favourite musical artist?

That’s big isn’t it? I listen to lots of different ones but I think probably Frank Sinatra. I love the way he can dominate a song and a close second would be Tony Bennett, I love that swing era but I love the modern songs too, like Sam Smith!

What’s your favourite food?

I think it’ll have to be curry.

What’s your biggest life achievement?

In primary school it was scoring for the school team and the teacher put me up front and my dad, for the last match, said if you score I will buy you a big Hercules Bomber model and I scored the winning goal.

Shannon Bruce and Georgia Wright