What do you consider to be the most important aspects of education?
I strongly believe that to become a rounded individual, it is important to experience as full a life as possible both inside and outside the classroom. As well as strong, inspiring teaching, being exposed to extra-curricular activities and experiences helps students to discover what is unique about themselves and fulfil their potential.
What do you feel will be your biggest challenge coming to Westfield School?
The education landscape in the North is going through perpetual change. You hear of funding cuts, mergers, closures and demographic changes but I believe that the ethos and values of single-sex independent education will become even more important in Britain in the future. Westfield School has been incredibly successful at producing strong thinkers with an independent spirit and an international outlook since 1960, which shows great strength and stability in its foundation.
What individual has inspired you the most and why?
I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible colleagues and leaders over my career but will always remember some advice pinned up in the staffroom of my first school, attributed to Teddy
Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
I draw inspiration from a large number of figures but if I had to pick just one it would probably be my grandfather, who was always passionate about education. He trained first as a teacher in Glasgow and after the Second World War he became the chief examiner for O-Level English and visited many schools. He soon realised that some teachers didn’t have sufficient training and he started lecturing at Jordanhill Teacher Training College in Glasgow before becoming the first principal of a new teacher training college in Hamilton. His idea was always to put children at the front and centre of everything a school does, which is, of course, still true today.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Away from the classroom, what do you do to relax?
I think the idea of spare time is an odd concept. Time is precious and should be used carefully and I certainly believe in working hard and playing hard but I also love the outdoors and escaping into the hills for a few hours, or a few days, helps to keep a sense of perspective on the business side of life. I enjoy watching cricket when I can but am also interested in history and am looking forward to visiting various places of interest around the North East.
What are you looking forward to the most about settling into the North East?
The North East isn’t hugely unfamiliar to me. I grew up in Scarborough and went to the University of St Andrews and my daughter is at the University of Hull at the moment. I have been involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and outdoor education for the last 20 years and am looking forward to exploring the Northumberland coastline and hills; the genuinely friendly nature of everyone is extremely exciting and I look forward to meeting everyone involved with Westfield.