Introducing the Middle Leadership Team

What do we know about our middle leadership team? We asked them what their favourite book was, why education is important to them and something to surprise us! Read below to see what they said.

Dominic Chan - Head of Year 7

BA (Econ), Certificate in Writing (Level II), B.Ed (Primary & Secondary)

Degree: Science

My two favourite books are A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt. Bryson is a travel writer who takes the reader on a whirlwind tour starting from the origins of the universe to the present day, with frequent rest stops to point out the scientific giants who made significant discoveries along the way. Dubner and Levitt are two rogue economists who not only ask such ridiculous questions as, “Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?”, but then proceed to apply their formidable analytical skills to answer such questions in terms of supply and demand.

What most people don’t know about me is that I’m actually an army reject. I qualified for and was accepted into officer candidate school in the Canadian Armed Forces straight out of high school, and had signed up to become a military engineer. Unfortunately, myopia got the better of me and prevented me from passing the medical exam, and laser eye surgery at the time was not developed enough for nor acceptable to the military. So rather than blow things up on the battlefield, I now get to blow things up in the laboratory (under safe and controlled conditions, of course!).


Hayley Hunter - Head of Year 8

BA Product Design, PGCE Design and Technology

My favourite books are A Game of Thrones. With these books you get transported into a world of magic, mystery and mayhem; a fantasy world where good battles evil to save the world from white walkers featuring amazing, thrilling and gut wrenching storylines, with intricate characters and plots. These are books where you can’t get too attached to your heros as they rarely survive. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of them and how their stories intertwined. They are books which will keep you hooked and intrigued.

When it comes to my education philosophy, caring about students beyond the boundaries of the classroom is the first step to sparking engagement

I helped build a classroom in Kenya for charity.

Jonathan Grindrod - Head of Year 9

BA (Hons) Business Management

My favourite book is Blink by Malcom Gladwell. I found this book full of insightful experiences which demonstrates how we should not be thinking things through too much. We all spend our time analysing things when we should learn to judge and pay attention to our instinct and first impressions instead of dismissing them.

There are some very interesting examples to get you thinking about the 'blink' reaction from different areas of the author's life and experiences. It has certainly made me think and I've found myself trusting my first thoughts more often without having to re-think things which alter our perceptions through over thinking. I've found myself googling many of the experiments and tests he mentions as many examples feature in everyday leadership situations.

I believe that education gives us a knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have points of view on a variety of aspects in life. People debate over the subject of whether education is the only thing that gives us knowledge…..

I have climbed the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in time to meet the sunrise

Francesca Williams, Head of Year 10

BA (Hons) History

Choosing a favourite book is a tough one but I would have to say ‘Regeneration’ by Pat Barker. I read this for my A-Level English Literature and it tapped into my love of history and fiction. Barker’s main themes of the unjust nature of war, the social class system masculinity and madness during World War One and shown through the real character of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen as well as fictional characters who are being treated for shellshock at a hospital in Scotland. It is not a war novel full of macho fighting and guns, it is a sensitive insight into the psychological effect the war had on previously strong young men. It is multi-layered, complicated and yet so readable.

I always knew I would be a teacher. My mum is a teacher and I saw the impact she had on students and how much she loved it and knew I wanted to do it too. But when I went to secondary school and found out you could teach one subject I knew it would be History for me. My teachers shaped and changed my life and outlook on things. For me education is not just about qualifications and grades, but about shaping people, giving them as many opportunities as possible and helping them become who they want to be.

Before I became a teacher I worked for three years at Buckingham Palace for the Royal Collection. I was part of the team that opened up the Royal Households to the public. I had many fantastic experiences there, not only meeting the Royal Family but going to a ball in Buckingham Palace.


Chris Trace, Associate Assistant Principal

Chris Trace - Associate Assistant Principal and Head of Year 11

BSc (Hons), PGCE, Advanced Skills Teacher

Degree: Sport Science & English

My favourite book is tricky to identify. I enjoy learning so you might catch me reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (Bill Bryson) or an autobiography such as "Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know" by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Then again, I also enjoy turning my brain off occasionally for a Jack Reacher adventure.

I have loved teaching since I first fell into it sometime last millennium, and at the heart of what I do is the pastoral side of school life; because getting to know young people, and not just in the classroom, is such a privilege. Seeing them leave school ready to take on the world and leave a positive impression on society makes teaching the most rewarding profession around.

My wife and I got married and had our daughter’s christening at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Mary-Jane Blease, Head of 6th Form

BA (Hons) Theology, PGCE, Lead Practitioner

I don’t really have favourite books, it feels like being asked to compare utterly different experiences. However, one book which really impacted me was A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khaled Hosseini. Reading it felt like being hit by a bus. That a man was able to write with such painful truth about the experiences of a woman is an example of how empathy and shared human experience can cut across gender, racial and cultural divides. It also reminded me how hope and warmth can flourish in the most unforgiving of circumstances. Another book that I love for very different reasons is What does it All Mean? by Thomas Nagel. This brilliant introduction to some enduring questions of philosophy has been my go to for several years running in philsosophy clubs in schools. Whilst never naming, outlining or summarising the views of famous philosophers it simply invites the reader to ‘do’ philosophy. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching on the sidelines as students have read and argued through these chapters, the discussion usually ending with ‘Miss, my head is wrecked!’

Education is the key to unlock the doors standing between where a person is now and where they want to be...even if they don’t always know where that is.


Art Whitehead - Director of Maths Faculty

BSc (Eng), MSc, CertEd, MIEEE

My favourite book is The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressel. This book was written by Tressel during his time as a house painter in the south of England at the turn of the 20th century. Based on his own experiences of poverty, exploitation, and his terror that he and his daughter, Kathleen—whom he was raising alone—would be consigned to the workhouse if he fell ill, Tressel embarked on a detailed and scathing analysis of the relationship between working-class people and their employers. The "philanthropists" of the title are the workers who, in Tressell's view, acquiesce in their own exploitation in the interests of their bosses. The novel is set in the fictional town of Mugsborough, based on the southern English coastal town of Hastings, where Tressel lived, although its geographical location is described in the book and is well away from the actual town of Hastings.

Education is now widely recognised as a fundamental human right. Hence its importance. As parents we all want our children to be healthy and be given every opportunity to learn and to gain the skills necessary for a successful and happy life. Being part of this is a privilege.

My motto is ‘Learn everything about something and something about everything! Before choosing to become a Teacher, I was a musician for a few years, playing my saxophone in a 9 piece band so music is a big part of my life. I also enjoy sailing my yacht in the Solent and am preparing for my next life challenge; to cross the Atlantic in my 60th year!!

Clare Durling, Associate Assistant Principal

Clare Durling- Associate Assistant Principal and Director of Communications Faculty

BA (Hons), PGCE, ILM level 3

Degree: English Literature

Being an English teacher I have several favourite books: Some I love revisiting with students who always bring fresh perspectives and I see the writing from a new angle, for example, ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Other books I cherish for their crafting or the impact they have on me. I particularly like the writing of Rose Tremain. ‘The Road Home’ published in 2007 is one of a number of brilliant books by the same author. It tells the story of Lev, an economic migrant. Through his eyes we hear the painful yet comic story of trying to make a life in London. It is beautifully, touchingly written.

Education for me is about the little flashes in a classroom when an individual ‘gets’ something or makes a strong personal connection with what they’re learning. Moments of inspiration! In a broader sense, education is not simply about a set of GCSE or A level results but about learning about where you fit in the world; what you enjoy, what you are good at, how to communicate and work with others. This lasts a lifetime. As Albert Einstein said ‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learned at school.’

I taught English in Japan, sold designer clothes in Australia and was a childminder in the USA to fund my travels. See the world!

David Doy - Director of Humanities Faculty

BA Joint Honours History with Politics Degree, NPQML, SLE

My favourite books are - His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. The epic trilogy of fantasy novels consists of Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes. The fantasy elements include witches and armoured polar bears; the trilogy also alludes to concepts from physics, philosophy and theology. The novel’s are controversial due to its reference to John Milton's epic ‘Paradise Lost’ with Pullman commending humanity for what Milton saw as its most tragic failing, original sin.

I strongly believe that the fundamental role of human beings is to leave any environment we enter a better place than when we arrived. This includes how we interact and socialise with others on a daily basis but also limiting the negative impact we can have on the world through things like climate change. I also believe the world in which we live today is not perfect, even though some would like us to believe it is, and therefore human beings need to constantly question the way the world works in order to challenge inequality and improve how we move forward as a species and care for our planet and the things which inhabit it. Therefore education is of vital importance as it is only through having an educational system of equally rich experience for all that later opportunities and experiences of life can also be equal and unrestricted. Education also allows me to continue to work with a subject and body of knowledge that I am deeply passionate about on a daily basis so i to am constantly learning and developing. Finally it also allows me to try and challenge perceptions and empower young people to question their own surroundings in order to make more informed decisions rather than to merely exist and follow the parameters they are given.


Sara Alexis- Director of Creative Arts Faculty

BA Hons Design and Technology Degree, HND Theatre Costume London College of Fashion

My favourite type of book to read would be fiction. The opportunity to escape into other worlds has always appealed to me and I particularly enjoy reading about other times and places. A series of books I have been reading recently is Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. Each book focuses on a different place in the world and includes the journey of a woman who is finding out about her origins. Family is very important to me and this series focuses on a whole range of different relationships within a family but also about some amazing places in the world which I am now determined to visit one day with my own sisters.

Education provides people with opportunities, it enables us all to build skills and knowledge that we can use throughout our lives and share with others. A good education develops us as people, it builds confidence and allows us to be more involved with the world around us.

As a child I did not appreciate how valuable a good education could be. I worked hard at school but did not really think where this could lead me. My passion to design and create is what took me onto further education, through this I gained many more opportunities to build on my knowledge and skills of creative studies. Completing a variety of courses, traveling and dealing with what life threw at me I developed as a person yet even now I continue to learn new things all the time. We are educated throughout our lives; all it takes is an openness to listen, to question and to take part. I would hope that my own involvement in education would encourage others creative learners to never hold back and that they would see worth in what they are doing and want to develop further.

I feel particularly lucky to work in education and feel honored to be a part of the next generations development. It is why I continue to want our pupils to know that there are many ways to learn and that we do not all have to be academics to play a part in the world we live in.

Helen Morris - SENCO

BSc (Physiology), PGrad Dip Teaching (Secondary), NASENCo, BPS qualified test user, Level 3 safeguarding trained.

My two favourite books are Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I read a lot of books, and so choosing just two is really difficult!

Education is an important way of learning how we all fit together in society, and a way of changing society to better fit everyone. Having a general understanding of the different elements that make up the world we live in, is an important part of ensuring that everyone can participate in life to the best of their ability. We need education to learn how to communicate with others, and how to listen to what others are trying to communicate with us.

What most people don’t know about me is that when I was at school, New Zealand History was my best subject. I also used to write poems and short stories, to help me remember facts (and for fun!). I chose to study science at university because I was thinking about going into medicine, but then decided not too. I am also one of the only people in New Zealand to have trained to be a teacher by correspondence, as part of a trial program.