Head Teacher Profiles

HEADS START –  A new intake of head teachers is set to make its mark in NappyValleyNet’s schools, says Georgina Blaskey.


ben-freeman

Ben Freeman 
Headmaster of Finton House School since April 2016

What do you love about your new school?
I was attracted to it because it is nonselective and inclusive – we have the full range of pupils, including those with special needs. I also love the broad curriculum. It’s not just about jumping through academic hoops – this is a happy school where children love learning and are highly motivated.

What is your vision for the school?
My task is moving the school from being excellent to exceptional, through a steady development of what we already have. I want to get the children out even more, through camping and walking weekends in the countryside, creating life experiences along the way.

“IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT JUMPING THROUGH ACADEMIC HOOPS”

What changes are you hoping to make?
I want to develop IT, for example using iPads to assess children’s progress in order to build up a profile of every pupil. We’re moving towards portable devices for children in the classroom and there’s a bespoke virtual learning environment in development.

What challenges do you face?
Primary education has an issue to face with assessments and how they are damaging education. It’s about striking a balance between knowing the progress children are making and leaving enough space to have a broad education and grow up at their own speed.


alex-hutchinson

Alexandra Hutchinson
Headmistress of Woldingham School from September 2016
(previously Deputy Head)

What do you love about your school?
We have 700 acres but we’re only 20 minutes from Clapham Junction. Our sense of community is strong and the environment is nurturing. Our ethos is unashamedly academic but broad – academic endeavour is important but what goes alongside it is equally so.

What is your vision for the school?
To build academic momentum. I am asking whether we are contemporary in what we offer. We have a programme called “thrive” to help our pupils be resilient and robust. We look at such things as mindfulness, growth mindset and useful mistakes to make in maths! I want the girls to understand that there is a broad definition of success. It’s not just about narrow academic criteria.

“WE HAVE A PROGRAMME CALLED ‘THRIVE’ TO HELP OUR PUPILS BE RESILIENT AND ROBUST”

What changes are you hoping to make?
We are reforming the curriculum alongside A levels to see what academic extras we can add. Mook is an online course set up by universities so pupils can use distance learning. We are planning a multidimensional learning-resource centre. Finally, we are introducing flexi boarding, so girls can stay one or two nights a week.

What challenges do you face?
There is endless scaremongering about girls’ schools in the press, but it’s a natural and special environment that encourages courage and confidence. Pupils develop academic standing and quiet confidence. We take a healthy mind, health body approach, telling girls that being themselves is the best thing they can be.


nicola-baldwin

Nicola Baldwin
Principal of Dolphin School from
September 2016 (previously Head at St Peter’s Westminster)

What do you love about your new school?
Its ethos shines through in the children. I was impressed with the governing body and realised that this was a place where children can thrive. It’s an exciting and fantastic school and the pupils are charged with excitement to be the best they can. They care for and support each other. The school’s Christian ethos also fits well with my background.

What changes are you hoping to make?
I am going to build on existing successes and review everything that’s happening and working. Then I will look at ways the school can grow. It’s about taking something that’s working well and enhancing it.

“IT’S AN EXCITING AND FANTASTIC SCHOOL AND THE PUPILS ARE CHARGED WITH EXCITEMENT”

What challenges do you face?
Education is always changing but we’re taking a clear, holistic view of how our children will be equipped for the future. We want them to contribute to society and to be true to themselves. We’re very aware that we’re not just preparing children for the next step, but for life. They need a global perspective and the skills to seek out opportunities – change can be embraced as positive.

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