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Talking Heads: Mrs Cooke of Henrietta Barnett School

on Mar 13, 2017

Mrs Cooke has been Head of The Henrietta Barnett School, a top-performing grammar school for girls 11-18 in North London, since September 2014.  For the previous 7 years, she was Head of an independent school in Surrey. What attracted you to this position as Head of Henrietta Barnett? I started my career in the state sector and I was very keen to return to it at some point. It’s a great privilege to be leading such an extraordinary school. I say extraordinary because schools right at the top of league tables are usually very intense and highly pressurised. At least that was my experience at the time. So when I was first rung up by the recruiters about the position I declined, saying I didn’t believe in teenagers being pressurised and so had no interest in such a high performing school. They laughed and said I really needed to visit it. Eventually they wore me down and I am so glad they...

Talking Heads: Mrs Connor-Earl of St Mary’s Hampstead

on Jan 25, 2017

Mrs Connor-Earl has been the Headmistress of St Mary’s School, an independent Catholic school in Hampstead, since Sept 2016. She was previously Director of Studies and Head of Prep Boarding at Ardingly College Prep School, Sussex. What drew you to St Mary’s School? When I decided I was ready for headship and started looking at schools, I realised very quickly that I wanted to be at a Catholic school because I believe they have a very unique ethos and my faith is very important to me. I say to parents that choosing a school is like choosing a house; you just get that feeling. The moment I walked in the door here, I just knew. There was an overwhelming sense that this was the right school. What has been your priority since you arrived? In my first term, I was able to teach and get to know all the children in the school. St Mary’s School is a very kind and happy place. For me though, that...

Talking Heads: King Alfred’s Robert Lobatto

on Dec 6, 2016

Robert Lobatto has been the Headmaster of King Alfred School, a progressive, child-centred, co-ed school in Golders Green, since Sept. 2015. He spent a large chunk of his career turning around struggling schools in the state sector. Tell us more about your background. I spent 25 years in the state system as a history teacher, head of humanities, deputy head and then executive head. I really enjoyed my career in the tough end of London schools: I always did well with Ofsted and managed to turn several schools around. In the last few years, however, I got very disillusioned with the state system and its disproportionate focus with progress data. The pressure meant decisions were starting to be driven by what was best for the school as opposed to what was best for the individual child. It wasn’t education as I understood it. I was mulling what to do outside of education when the King...

Talking Heads: Mrs Cawthorne of Bassett House

on Nov 28, 2016

Mrs Philippa Cawthorne has been the Headmistress of Bassett House, a non-selective, co-ed prep school in North Kensington, since September 2014. She was previously Headmistress of pre-prep independent school Eaton House the Manor. What do you think sets your school apart from others in the area? We give the children an excellent academic foundation, while also seeking to find and develop each child’s innate ability and talent wherever it may lie. We believe in maximum participation in various activities so that children may grow in confidence as they try a range of pursuits. We are small enough to enable that to happen, which can be harder in a bigger school. Our residential trips, such as sailing on the Solent or bushcraft activities in a forest, are not just an opportunity for children to learn and have fun outside school, but also a means by which they may experience what has been...

Talking Heads: Francis Holland Regent’s Park’s Charles Fillingham

on Nov 21, 2016

Charles Fillingham is the Headmaster of Francis Holland Regent’s Park, an independent girls school in Central London. He took the post last September and was previously Deputy Head at the City of London School for Boys. What has been your agenda during this first year? I have come to a school at the top of its game. The exam results are about as good as they have ever been. My priority has been meeting parents, reassuring them that the school is thriving, that it is in safe hands and that it is going good places. What are the ways you are developing the school? We have launched a series called Women of Influence, which has been fantastic and will happen again next year. The girls themselves took ownership of it and invited guests including a baroness, a dame, a doctor and a professor. They came to talk about their own paths to success in the spirit of inspiring and challenging the...