Head of English, Bedales Prep School, Dunhurst

BA Winchester, PGCE Cambridge

What makes a good teacher at Dunhurst?

To teach at Dunhurst a person needs a very strong subject knowledge and level of professional know-how, coupled with a well of imagination and some nifty tricks to add a twist to the everyday.

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

All teaching hopes to engender a love of learning that will reach far beyond the school gates, but as an English teacher my hope is that all the children in my care will leave Dunhurst believing that they have a voice, that their ideas are of value, and that they have a good grasp of standard English forms, so that they have the means of communicating these ideas to others. That way, they are one step closer to making their ideas and dreams a reality.

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

HOPiT (Helping Other People in Trouble) is our charity forum, and I njoy supporting the children in making their charitable endeavours come to fruition, and I have also co-ordinated the Community Service programme, where we help out in three schools, two main-stream, and one special needs. I really love working cross-curricularly, and am often involved in the Art department's projects. We have had our poetry and script ideas in local, national and international events over the last couple of years.  I have also done hair and make up for plays, and stage managed for our big Blocks plays that happen twice a year. And, I've accompanied the children on adventure Camps in Devon, and on Latin trips, to the Amalfi coast.

In your opinion, what makes Dunhurst special?

There is a history and heritage that is different to other schools I have worked in. There is a sense of place here. Deep rooted in the landscape and the legacy that Old Bedalians have left. It has formed a culture that is based upon mutual respect and collaboration, and the knowledge that anyone, in any position in the school can have a great idea, and that there is a community network to help make it happen. Not everything is uniform here, there is not a set route to success, but we all do find achievement, and we get further than we had anticipated we might. 

What is your best memory of Dunhurst?

This changes every day. Recently I was stopped outside a choir rehearsal where two year groups were practising a song. They called me over and sat me at the front. They then sang a beautifully harmonious song, that they had written from scratch, about their wish for the world. Another time, children who would barely speak in front of their peers at the beginning of the year performed rap and poetry to the whole school, on issues that were close to their hearts, in some cases speaking personally on important issues. Hear the children express their emotions, in such eloquant forms is incredibly moving, and as an English teacher knowing you have empowered children to use their language skills in these ways, makes your heart soar.

Who or what inspires you?

The world around me. I try to 'keep my eyes open', to look up, to look under, and to notice small things.

Tell us something that nobody knows about you?

My hobby is rock climbing which makes me freakishly strong for such a small person, and incredibly fearless.