Page 28 - Independent Schools Magazine
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  Born: 1963
Wife: Caroline Children: Felix (11), Anton (10), Sophie (7)
Schools and University Attended: St. Mary’s College, Southampton. Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge and St Andrews.
First job: 1985: Teacher of Classics at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, Elstree.
First management job: 2004: Lower Grammar Playroom Master, Stonyhurst College, Lancashire (i.e. Year 9 boarding and day housemaster).
First job in education: As above Appointed to current job: 2012
Favourite piece of music:
‘They Say it’s Spring’ by Blossom Dearie.
Favourite food: Chocolate Favourite drink: Trappist Beer
Favourite holiday destination:
Favourite leisure pastime:
watching cricket
Favourite TV or radio programme/series: Test Match Special
Suggested epitaph: ‘God looks graciously upon a gentle master’ (Aeschylus, as quoted in Terence Rattigan’s ‘The Browning Version’)
 Profile In conversation with Stephen Oliver
QYou have worked in Catholic schools QAfter your first ten years teaching
for twenty years. The educational
landscape in the UK has evolved significantly in that time, but how has the specifically Catholic educational scene changed in particular?
AI believe there have been two key changes in the Catholic independent sector over this period: the ongoing withdrawal of the religious orders from schools, involving the handing over of Governance and leadership to lay people and, secondly, the increasing challenge of attracting Catholic parents to send their children to Catholic schools. Many parents, it would seem, will no longer prioritise Catholic ethos over other aspects of education when choosing a school. Catholic state schools are often over- subscribed, but the independent schools exist in a highly competitive market and have to show that they are as good as or better than their rivals. This, of course, can be a good thing as it keeps us from being complacent.
QYou have served for several years
on the committee of the Catholic Independent Schools Conference and assisted in drawing up its latest Strategic Plan. What are the essential elements or goals of that Plan?
AThere are five strategic aims, but I think the most important one is the development of a CISC leadership programme, to ensure that we successfully recruit the next generation of Catholic school leaders. This programme is now well underway and has already attracted two cohorts of highly talented people, helping them to deepen their understanding of Catholic education and encouraging them to take on the challenges
of leadership. Very importantly, CISC also provides opportunities and resources for staff and students in our schools and, increasingly, speaks as a national voice in the wider world of education. Catholic independent schools have a great deal to offer and CISC is there to make the sector more visible.
Classics at various independent
schools you became a novitiate
at Downside Abbey for eighteen months. Looking back on that time, what did you take from what must have been an unusual and remarkable experience?
I was 33 when I went to Downside and found the first few months a radical change from the free and
easy life I had previously enjoyed of being a bachelor teacher in an independent day school. The novitiate showed me the qualities needed to live closely on a daily basis with a group of people you would not necessarily have chosen as your lifelong companions. It also developed in me a greater commitment to my faith, while showing me that a life removed from the
world was not my true calling. I decided not to stay and take monastic vows because, while attracted to aspects of the life, I did not fall in love with it. My calling lay elsewhere.
QYou returned to teaching after your time at Downside, and have since worked at three Catholic independent schools, first as a Classics teacher then moving up through various management positions
to headship. What impact did your time as a novitiate have on your teaching style, indeed on your approach to education?
ABefore going to Downside I had
never taught in a Catholic school. Fortunately, only a few months
after I left the novitiate, I was offered a job
at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and was able to immerse myself in the great Jesuit traditions of that school. Throughout my time at Stonyhurst I had pastoral roles that involved me living in the College and I could combine what I had learnt about Benedictine spirituality at Downside with the Jesuits’ charism, based on the life and teachings of St Ignatius. I don’t think my time in the novitiate influenced my teaching style as such, but it did mean that
I was completely committed to Stonyhurst’s
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