Ana Simmons, Teacher of Ceramics, throwing a bowl on a potters' wheel
Ana Simmons
Head of Lower School and Teacher of Ceramics

BA (Hons) Ceramics, Cardiff School of Art, UWIC
PGCE Art and Design, Southampton

What makes a good teacher at Bedales?

Someone who is eager to share their knowledge and passion for their subject but is also still wanting to learn themselves and be curious about things alongside their students. Teaching at Bedales is all about being honest and open and letting the teaching and learning become a collaborative experience.

What are you trying to encourage and instil in your students?

To always question with empathy, to be open to ‘having a go’ and to be honest when something isn’t working.

Apart from your teaching role, what else do you get involved with at the school?

I think that only half the learning happens inside a classroom, so I love spending time with students out of the class getting to understand them and guide them beyond academics. I’m the Senior Day Houseparent alongside also working in Steephurst, so a lot of my time is spent working pastorally with students. I also can’t resist going on school trips be it for a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition or a couple of weeks in America/Iceland/India/wherever! 

In your opinion, what makes Bedales special?

So many ways, but the supportive community certainly makes it a unique place to work and live. There’s a real sense of togetherness which creates a special quality of relationship between the teachers, support staff and the students.

Who or what inspires you?

Barbara Hepworth. She distinguished herself as a world-recognised sculptor in a period where female artists were rare.

Tell us something not a lot of people know about you.

I spent two years of my life making pots in a Pottery after my degree. The days were long, making the same thing over and over again, and often very cold but I loved every minute of it. I learnt so much, but most impressively I perfected making a mug, start to finish, in under a minute.