Head of History, Politics & Classical Civilisation and Lead for New Qualifications, Bedales

MA Oxford (St Catherine’s), MA, PhD Manchester, PGCE MEd Buckingham, FRHistS, FCIEA, CEA

What makes a good teacher at Bedales?

Intellectual curiosity, authenticity in all elements of working and personal life, a genuine willingness to immerse yourself in the life of the school – in effect, good old-fashioned schoolmastering with an egalitarian twist. Where else would you get to teach a lesson on seventeenth-century religious factionalism and then watch Block 4 pupils help your 18 month-old daughter play on a bouncy castle?

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

A love of the subject, a love of learning and an intellectual reflectiveness that will prepare them for life in an increasingly challenging and exciting world.

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

I’m delighted to be a Residential tutor on Boys’ Flat, I run Green Ribbon Society (History lectures), I’m a Sixth Form tutor, and I’m looking forward to getting involved in Outdoor Work. I really enjoyed cutting down trees during my first Whole School Effort!

In your opinion, what makes Bedales special?

Intellectual distinctiveness (the History BAC is a great break away from the straitjacket of IGCSE), a desire to question and reflect on learning and intellectual endeavour. It’s an institution that prioritises positive human relationships and cultures of learning above being an exam factory.

Who or what inspires you?

Nigel King: a softly-spoken folk rocker who taught me A Level History at Handsworth Grammar School; the composer Sir James MacMillan, who captures beautifully the relationship between faith and music; the late 17th century priest and visionary John Mason, one of whose poems was sung as a hymn at our wedding; WB Yeats and Philip Larkin.

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

I was born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. My parents were working there when I was born. If only I lived in Ireland now – I’d always get a day off on my birthday!