It is my great pleasure to be taking over the headship of Rookwood School in September. I have already visited the school a number of times and I am working closely with the current Headmaster, Dr Mark Whalley, the Trustees and the wider leadership team in making the transition as seamless as possible.
Rookwood truly is a wonderful school which educates pupils from three to 16 in Andover. We are a small but vibrant community which values each individual child and fosters a love of learning. We have a broad but balanced curriculum which focuses on personal development alongside academic achievement. This is seen in the pupils’ integrity, tolerance and resilience as well as their excellent GCSE results.
I believe that schools should be places where every child feels valued as an individual and motivated to be the best that he or she can be, whether in the classroom, on the sports field or the stage, and this ethos is certainly true at Rookwood. Our pupils are actively encouraged to participate in a wide variety of activities. There are too many opportunities to list them all here, but they include visual and performing arts, sport, outdoor pursuits, such as our highly successful Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, and ‘Growers’, the gardening club which has been awarded Five Star Gardening School status by the RHS.
For the past six years I have been Deputy Headmaster of Kent College Pembury, an HMC day and boarding school in Tunbridge Wells. I have also been a Director of Studies, Head of Year and Interim Head, which included leading the school through a highly successful inspection. When I was younger, I attended Sandhurst where I trained to become an Education Officer and, when I was even younger, I boarded at Gosfield School, a small school with a very similar ethos and feel to Rookwood.
In many ways, moving to the area is a return home. Not only was I born in Hampshire but I also met my wife, Gill, at Netheravon. At the time, we were both keen skydivers and we have spent many weekends at the local drop zone. It is also where I obtained my parachuting instructor’s rating, although I have since retired from the sport due to family commitments.
A few years ago, I completed a Master’s Degree in Learning and Teaching at Oxford and this helped refine my educational philosophy. I believe in developing metacognitive agency, in other words teaching pupils how to learn and how to take ownership of their own learning, and of promoting a growth mindset. This is the understanding that ability is not set in stone but is something which will improve through hard work and endeavour. This philosophy is already at Rookwood’s heart as shown through our motto, Saupere Aude, translated as ‘dare to know’. At Rookwood, pupils are and will continue to be challenged to have courage, learn new things, develop new skills and deepen their understanding, and I am driven to ensure that Rookwood School is a place where every single pupil thrives.