EDUCATION – Heads are key figures in guiding students future

Lancing College Pupils

Lancing pupils

Article from FOCUS Magazine – Summer 14 issue.

Lancing College
Lancing, West Sussex BN15 0RW
T: 01273 465805

Dominic Oliver Headmaster of Lancing

Dominic Oliver MPhil (Head Master from September 2014)

Lancing College is a beacon, a beacon in two senses. High on the Downs above Shoreham-by-Sea, the school Chapel can be seen for miles around and at night, floodlit, it is a remarkable and inspiring sight. The second, more significant, sense is that it has been an inspiration on the educational landscape ever since its founding in 1848. A place that prizes academic achievement alongside the development of the whole person – be that in sport, the arts or a whole host of other areas – every element of the College has been fostered to guide and help young people to happy and successful lives. It is in this light that I look forward to joining the school in September as Head Master. What a pleasure and privilege is in prospect!

Having started teaching undergraduates while completing post-graduate work at the University of Oxford, I became a member of the English Faculty and taught all sorts of writers and works. Ranging from Chaucer’s Miller to Arthur Miller from Eliot (George) to Eliot (TS) there was always the beating pulse of Shakespeare at the heart of any given week. Having produced an edition of Richard III aimed at illuminating and aiding teenagers without losing the nuance so vital to full understanding of Shakespeare, I decided to go direct to the classroom chalk face. I felt that, important as undergraduate teaching is, it cannot compare to the challenge and sheer joy of engaging and enlightening the previously uninitiated. This has proved to be absolutely true.

Thus I found myself in a classroom at RGS Worcester and just over two-and-a-half years later I was Head of English at Malvern College. These were incredibly  stimulating years, as have been my nearly four years as Managing Head of Bedales School, just a stone’s throw from the Hampshire-Sussex border. Whether spending most of my time in the classroom or, as has been the case latterly, working at the ‘bigger picture’ of a school’s smooth running, at the heart of it all has been a desire to bring out the very best in the young people in my charge. Work in schools is an inherently optimistic business. What workplace could be better, and what role could be better than the Headship at Lancing?

Writing of William Wordsworth, Shelley called him ‘a lone star… a rock-built refuge’, and thus at once a metaphorical guiding light and sanctuary of protection. Lancing College embodies that doubleness, providing inspiration, care and a set of guiding principles by which to live fulfilled, happy, and successful lives both in school and well beyond. It is my hope and determination that Lancing’s light will shine still more brightly under my stewardship.

Headmistress Mrs Sarah Buckle with Farnborough Hill Pupils

Headmistress Mrs Sarah Buckle with Farnborough Hill pupils

Farnborough Hill
Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 8AT
T: 01252 545197
Headmistress: Mrs Sarah Buckle BSc(Hons) MA PGCE NPQH

Sarah Buckle, the Headmistress of Farnborough Hill, took over as Head of this thriving independent girls’ school in 2007, having previously held posts at Putney High School GDST and The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston. During her seven years as Head she has seen the school go from strength to strength.

This year the school celebrates its 125th anniversary. Since the earliest days Farnborough Hill has been ‘educating the whole person’ in a caring and supportive environment. Mrs Buckle particularly values the Roman Catholic tradition and sees its Christian ethos as key to the excellent pastoral care and respect with which students treat each other. She holds the view that learning should be fun, that lessons should be inspiring so that school work doesn’t become a chore, and she never ceases to be amazed by how much the girls pack in to one day.

The school’s growing reputation has enabled Mrs Buckle to appoint some outstanding new teachers to join the already excellent staff. Mrs Buckle says “the staff are a wonderful group of people, a great mix of youth and experience, who work closely together and get to know the girls very well indeed. They teach creatively and with passion and the girls respond brilliantly; staff and girls have great respect for each other.”

Despite the recession, the school is full with waiting lists for every year group and recent growth (500 pupils to 570), has generated the funds needed to improve facilities. During Mrs Buckle’s tenure the science laboratories have been fully modernised, St Anne’s Art and Design centre has been extended, a professional standard radio station has been installed, the Sixth Form have a new common room and kitchen, a Performing Arts theatre has been created and two new-builds have been completed: St Joseph’s houses a Sixth Form laboratory, geography room and a large multi-purpose space incorporating a dance studio whilst the latest addition is the stunning, architecturally designed, £1.5m St Cecilia’s Music Suite.

Last term Farnborough Hill was short-listed for an award at the ISA’s ‘Independent School of the Year’ and this term the ISI Inspection Report awarded Farnborough Hill the highest possible category of ‘Excellent’ for all eight assessed aspects of the school. The Inspectors confirmed that ‘a significant teaching strength is the excellent relationships and rapport between pupils and teachers, which helps to create a very positive and supportive learning environment’. They also recognised that ‘the beautiful school environment helps pupils to appreciate and respect the world around them and gain awareness that there is more to life than that presented by the material world.’

Mrs Buckle says ‘Of course there is always room for improvement and while we are immensely proud of what we have achieved we have no intention of resting on our laurels. We have ambitious plans for the future and look forward to developing further everything that we offer, both to the students in school and the wider community’.

If you would like more information or to visit the school please contact Clare Duffin on 01252 545197.