Page 24 - Independent Schools Magazine
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To David, two boys – 17 and 11
Schools and University Attended: Kingsmead High School, Durham University and Cambridge University
First job: The Manchester Grammar School in 1994
First management job:
Head of Religion & Philosophy at Malvern Girls’ College in 1998
First job in education:
As above
Appointed to current job:
Favourite piece of music:
Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony (I adore the brass introduction) but am an unashamed 80’s music fan!
Favourite food:
Favourite drink:
A gin and tonic on a beautiful day
Favourite holiday destination:
South East Asia
Favourite leisure pastime:
Reading / Music
Favourite TV or radio programme/series: ‘Friends’ and also, currently, ‘The Happy Place’ (perfect for those Religion & Philosophy teachers among us!)
Suggested epitaph:
She tried to make a difference and to be the best she could be!
 Profile In conversation with Helen Jeys
QAlderley Edge boasted two QYou are known for taking a particular
independent girls’ schools – the
Roman Catholic Mount Carmel
and the Anglican St Hilary’s – until they merged in 1999 to form AESG. Does this long Christian tradition have any bearing on how you run the school today?
AAbsolutely. The Christian values upon which the School is founded are very important to how I run the School. Even those parents who are not from a Christian background value the principles we teach the girls; we want them all to develop
a strong moral compass. We emphasise the importance of compassion and community and our motto “aspire to be more, not have more” (penned by Archbishop Oscar Romero) is at the heart of everything that we do. We encourage girls to be more; to be the best they can be academically and in terms of their character; to volunteer for local care homes, to work for charities, to help those in need and to support each other within school. Education runs far deeper than academic results and our Christian tradition is crucial to the philosophy which underpins the School.
QAlderley Edge village is said to be one of the most expensive places in the country to live outside central London. It must cost your staff dearly to live in the area, yet you manage to keep the fees for your 500 or so pupils under the national average. What’s the secret?
AWe do want to remain excellent value for money for our parents and – as with all independent schools – many of our parents make huge sacrifices to send their daughters here. We budget very carefully and keep our costs to the minimum while still trying to provide bursary funding and scholarships. It is a difficult balance but we want to remain accessible to those parents who live in the area and those who do not; we have a very large catchment area with some staff and girls travelling from considerable distances to access the education we offer.
interest in the pastoral care of
your pupils. Many independent schools claim this, but provision is far from consistent. Can you describe the essential pro-active strategies in this area of your work?
AI am absolutely passionate and totally committed to providing a holistic education for my pupils. My view is quite simple; if a pupil is happy she will thrive. Furthermore, many think that having a pastoral structure in place (form tutor, Head of Year etc.) is sufficient but from my point
of view, it is about having proactive systems in place that most benefit the students. We have very small class sizes so that every child is known and valued as an individual and focusing on positive mindsets (the power of yet! – better to think can’t do something yet than can’t do something, full stop), character education (teaching the value of perseverance and grit for instance), mindfulness and so forth prepares girls for their future. The work of Matthew Syed has been crucial to the development of my philosophy, together with the focus on Eudamonia and the work of Anthony Seldon. My favourite Aristotelian quote – stencilled in huge letters outside my hall reads – “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at
all.” For me, this summarises what I am so passionate about.
Ibelievethatithastobeandisa crucial part of the aim and vision of the School. Ultimately, my girls
’Aspire not to have more – but to be more’. So says the AESG website. In a celebrity-obsessed, wealth-obsessed
age is this a practical goal to set your girls?
will leave school and will have to manage in this world but they leave with the knowledge that their character will enable them to do so. They leave understanding that they do have to contribute to their community, to
be ‘grounded’ (to cite a cliché) and to have the resilience and perseverance to be the
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