Headmaster’s Notes: Welcome

29th August 20

Dear Parents

I do hope that you enjoyed the summer break and your children are well rested and are as excited as we are for the term ahead.

After finally breaking for the summer after our three-week optional term extension, we have not rested on the staff appointments front with some exciting changes and additions to the teaching team that I am delighted to share with you. Teachers are recruited first and foremost on their abilities in the classroom, a genuine enthusiasm for and knowledge of their subject, and a total commitment to encouraging our young people to flourish.

Mrs Field has been appointed as a Teacher of Year 1 this year. She has moved from Dulwich College Junior School and has previously taught at Wetherby School. She has a wealth of teaching experience and a clear understanding of where pupils needs to get to having taught children from Year 1 to Year 6 during her career thus far. A graduate in English from Exeter, Mrs Field cannot wait to immerse herself in the co-curricular life of Prince’s Mead. She is particularly keen on Drama, having directed recent school productions including The Lion King, Seussical the Musical and Peter Pan. Mrs Field very much enjoys playing netball having been 1st team captain whilst at school and subsequently competing in various leagues. Her other hobbies include yoga, indoor cycling (whilst currently residing in London), walking, riding and the theatre.

Mr Murray-Walker has been appointed as a Year 4 Form Teacher and Middle School Coordinator (Year 3 and Year 4). Qualifying from the University of Winchester, he has since held a number of pastoral and senior leadership positions, more recently in Kenya. He arrives with a reputation as a highly-experience, passionate and caring teacher. His subject strengths are the core subjects, French, History and debating. He is a great sports enthusiast and has a wide range of coaching experience including hockey, rugby and as a Hampshire District cricket coach. He is a passionate advocate of environmental sustainability; in Kenya, he led a tree seedling project, planting up a small forest of 5,000 trees in just one year. Before teaching Mr Murray-Walker worked in industry and looks forward to bring a wealth of life experience into the classroom but also celebrating further the development of pupils in Years 3 and 4 during an important stage in their academic and emotional development.

Mrs O’Brien has been appointed as Head of Art and looks forward to igniting meaningful conversations about culture, history, philosophies and ecological developments and changes. Celebrating and valuing pupils’ artistic achievements is a priority for her and Mrs O’Brien recognises Art as a timely vehicle for supporting our pupils’ emotional well-being and positive growth mindset.  She has a wealth of experience and has exciting plans to further develop the Department. Outside of School Mrs O’Brien has operated her own successful art business; running art clubs and workshops both in schools and from her own private studio to children of all ages. A number of our pupils will already be familiar with her through these activities. Beyond her Art Teaching specialisms, she has a Masters in Writing for Children from the University of Winchester. Within the community, she is also a governor at a local school. In any spare time that remains, she enjoys being a mum, furniture upcycling and wild swimming!

Whilst fresh blood arrives from beyond our school gates there is so much to celebrate from within our existing staff body and I remain resolute in embracing the many talents on the team to good effect. To that end, Mrs Naomi Small has been appointed as Head of Digital Learning, Mrs Little as Head of Girls Games, Mrs Mant as Head of DT, Mrs Thompson as our Forest School leader and Mrs Barraclough as our resident Librarian. On the House front, Mrs Small now takes on the mantle of leading Chestnut House. I want to thank Mrs Mant for her leadership of Girls Games over many years and Mrs Costello for her leadership of Chestnut House too. For reference, Mrs O’Siochain will now be known as Miss Say.

We have also appointed a number of new Teaching Assistants and we welcome Mrs Wade, Mrs Griffith and Miss Stuart (who will be providing specialist Forest School support for Mrs Thompson in due course). You will be pleased to see a little more of Mrs Stevenson too on the TA front, but only for a few more weeks before her travel plans are restored!

As we begin the new academic year, I remain extremely proud of every member of the school staff, each of whom are dedicated, committed and highly professional. From the administration staff to the Estates team, groundsmen, bus drivers, cleaners and catering team, each member of staff is part of the Prince’s Mead family and committed to delivering a superb level of support to your children. Watch this space for further appointment in the next few weeks as we look to further resource our Games and Digital Learning departments.

The Michaelmas Term schedule at Prince’s Mead is a busy one and there is a great deal to look forward to over the coming weeks. I am very excited about what this year can bring and how much our children can achieve with all that we offer them, both individually and as a school. We remain resolute in being there for our pupils and are prepared for all eventualities too.

On a note of safety, may I offer a polite reminder to please drive with particular care and attention as you enter the school site and please keep those engines switched off when your car is stationary for the benefit of our children as we all work together in ensuring the safe drop-off and collection of your children during the staggered times outlined in the coronavirus operational procedures outlined within this newsletter. Thank you in advance for your support in these arrangements, albeit many of your will be familiar with much of them from this successful approach last term.

I personally look forward to welcoming your children back to school and I wish your family a very safe and happy start to the new academic year. May I extend a particularly heartfelt welcome to our new families too.

With my warmest wishes,

Peter Thacker