EDUCATION – Heads steering the way to bright futures

Article from FOCUS Magazine – Autumn 17 issue.

The head of a school can be a key factor in how effective the school is.
Cranleigh School Pupils

Pupils of Cranleigh School, Surrey.

Cranleigh School

Martin Reader has headed up Cranleigh School in Surrey since 2014. Brought up in Orpington, he attended St Olave’s Grammar School which he describes as, ‘an academic school that also offered breadth of sport, art and music.’ This grounding in the benefits of a broad and vibrant curriculum is what attracted him to Cranleigh.

“Cranleigh’s motto, ‘Ex Cultu Robur’ (from culture comes strength) has been in use since the school was built in 1865. To us it is a powerful reminder that education is about so much more than just exam results. Of course our academics are excellent. But academic success should not have to come at the expense of the co-curricular programme. Last year, along with record-breaking exam results, we boasted national finalists in rugby, hockey and cricket, and we staged some stunning musical concerts and dramatic productions.

“Our whole co-curricular programme is about participation, not just the elite, and that is especially true of sports where everyone is expected to be involved, staff as well as pupils. It is this enriching cultural experience that lies at the heart of a good education, and Cranleigh proves time and time again that young people can succeed without a narrow focus. The incredible achievements of our pupils and our alumni speak for themselves.”

Martin Reader Headmaster of Cranleigh School

Martin Reader Headmaster of Cranleigh School

Mr Reader read English at University College Oxford, played lots of rugby and stayed on for an MPhil. His first teaching post and first experience of a boarding school was at St Edward’s Oxford, from there he went to Oundle and then to Reigate Grammar where he was senior deputy head before taking up headship of Wellington School in Somerset where he spent eight years. He believes wholeheartedly in co-educational environments where brothers and sisters can learn together.

“I have two children, a boy and a girl, one academic and one sporty and I love that they can both be educated together at Cranleigh. That sense of family and togetherness makes the school special, and the fact that it is a small school with less than 700 pupils means that everyone gets to know each other. It makes the environment very much more supportive.”

Mr Reader, Chair Elect of the Boarding Schools Association, is a staunch advocate for the benefits of a boarding education, as boarding environments provide enough time for children to make the most of all the activities they are offered.

“Boarding gives us time to develop deeper trust and partnership. Nothing is more rewarding than having time to talk to children. And the children who board here are really making the most of their school day. Rather than being stuck in a car commuting to school they are out on the pitches and in the studios rehearsing, or attending evening lectures from visiting speakers or simply hanging out with friends in the boarding house.”

Although proud of Cranleigh’s heritage, the Headmaster is keen to ensure that the school stays current. Along with appointing a new head of contemporary music and a robotics specialist to lead Design Engineering, he has revamped the art provision and instigated an ambitious programme of building. Among renovations and facility development, a third girls’ boarding house and a state-of-the-art academic block for humanities will open over the coming academic year. Cranleigh is also leading the way in philosophical approaches to learning through its Cranleigh Thinking projects.

Mr Reader is at pains to point out that the traditional boarding environment is much changed and that modern boarding is a partnership with parents, especially at Cranleigh where the majority of pupils are local, travelling from Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire or London to board during the week.

“The majority of Cranleighans are extremely busy during the week but most choose to be at home with their families after Saturday matches, returning to prepare for the week ahead on Sunday evenings. In the interim our parents are very much a part of the education of their sons and daughters. We keep in regular touch and aim to create a safe and supportive environment that is a genuine partnership for the families we serve.”

In summary he adds that the famous Cranleigh ethos can be captured in just five words: wholeness, time, family, love and hope. He describes his headship as ‘coming home’ and to those who are unsure as to what a dedicated boarding community might be like says: “Come and see it for yourself, we’ll be delighted to welcome you.”

CRANLEIGH SCHOOL Horseshoe Lane, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 8QQ
T: 01483 276377 E: W:

Halliford School

James Davies Headmaster of Halliford School

James Davies Headmaster of Halliford School

Mr James Davies has been appointed as the new Headmaster of Halliford School and will join the school in September 2017. A music graduate from the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester, Mr Davies has spent his career in teaching and has taught music at and held leadership roles in many independent schools across the north of England. He has considerable experience of single sex, co-educational day and boarding schools.

Mr Davies is an accomplished musician and as an organist and choral director he has performed in most of the Cathedrals in the UK and many overseas. He is also an active member of the RNLI where he has served as a lifeboat man on both the East and West coasts of the UK being involved in many rescues and is looking forward to hopefully transferring his skills to support the RNLI on the Thames. In his spare time he is very involved with outdoor activities having organised student expeditions to Europe and Africa and he is a keen Scuba Diver and currently completing his instructor examinations. He comes from a sporting family where both his father and sister are British Olympians and so is no stranger to the demands of elite sports.

“At Halliford School we strongly believe that every young person should be seen as an individual with their own personality, talents and skills and that it is this individuality that we seek to encourage and develop at all stages of their education. Our aim is to enable each of our students to become the very best version of themselves that they can possibly be.

We recognise that the environment in which a child learns is just as important as what they learn. Renowned for our outstanding pastoral care, we work hard to create a community where our students can come together, where they are encouraged to flourish, where they can feel safe and comfortable, confident and proud, stimulated and inspired and, most of all, happy. We are extremely fortunate as a small school to have many outstanding facilities on our beautiful site nestled alongside the River Thames. At Halliford School we seek to be both academically ambitious as well as academically sensitive. We challenge and support our students to make the most of their abilities but also to learn how to take responsibility for their progress. Students who need additional support are identified and nurtured to achieve their very best in our well-established learning support unit. This is a school where every achievement, however small, is noticed and every individual’s successes are celebrated as a member of the Halliford family.

We offer a wide variety of co-curricular activities where we aim to provide our students with the chance to immerse themselves in a whole host of activities outside the classroom.

There is no better way to experience the distinctive culture and ethos of our School and I warmly invite you to come and visit us in person at our Open Days. I look forward to welcoming you to our school to see for yourself if it is the right school for your child’s future education. “

HALLIFORD SCHOOL Russell Road, Shepperton, Surrey TW17 9HX
T: 01932 223593 E: W:

Barrow Hills School

Sean Skehan, Headmaster, Barrow Hills School

Sean Skehan, Headmaster, Barrow Hills School

At Barrow Hills we prepare children for greater things; we are a school with ambition. Inspired by the success of the GB Olympic cycling team, I strongly believe that it is the hundred small improvements which lead to excellence. At Barrow Hills we strive to continually improve everything we do.

In the last year, twenty of our children won senior school scholarships, three of our sports teams played in national finals and a team of girls and boys qualified for the national final of a prestigious design technology competition run by Land Rover.

But there is another, and perhaps more important, ambition that we have for our children. We want them to develop the qualities of character that are the foundation of future success and happiness. We want them to be truthful and true to themselves; to be responsible in what they say and in what they do; to be scholarly in the way that they learn and in their love of learning; to be curious about everything and to be brave when meeting new challenges; to show compassion towards others, both in the school and in the wider world; to be generous of spirit, sharing their time and their gifts and to be joyful in their appreciation of their families and their friendships.

As a team of staff we are committed to valuing each child as a unique individual. We are agile and flexible in the way that we meet the academic and pastoral needs of each child, with every lesson planned to meet personal needs. As an English teacher I am passionate about reading and we are working hard to create a strong reading culture at Barrow Hills; learning to love reading is such a wonderful gift and improves academic progress across the curriculum.

We are unswerving in our dedication to helping children discover and realise their talents. We value the arts as part of a broad curriculum and have a wide and varied extra-curricular programme. Every child plays in a weekly fixture in our main team sports whilst also performing in a play each year.

At Barrow Hills we are all inspired by the beautiful surroundings, the Arts and Crafts house and gardens. This is a fantastic place for children to grow up, to be children and to have a childhood.

Having taught in the state and independent education sector, in co-ed and single sex, senior and prep schools, I felt my career was preparing me for greater things, and now, as Head of Barrow Hills I have found my true calling – induced by the values, the staff and the children at this unique school.

BARROW HILLS SCHOOL Roke Lane, Witley, Surrey GU8 5NY
T: 01428 683639 E: W: