Tell us a little about your background - where did you study? What got you to the position you’re currently in?
The son of a concert pianist, I’m a musician by background and with a wife who previously worked in professional theatre, the Creative Arts have always been important to me. I studied Music at Christ Church, Oxford and have worked within a number of Independent Schools both in the UK and overseas, latterly at Loughborough Endowed Schools.
Tell us about the school you represent, and your position within it.
Bilton Grange is a very special school. Our strong heritage, together with our passion for educating the whole child, means that we have and continue to produce children who are successful in their chosen fields. My position as Headmaster, allows me to work with my colleagues to shape our broad educational offering ensuring that we continue remain at the top of our field.
What makes your school different from others?
We believe that happiness is key to our children’s education and we work extremely hard to ensure that all of our children are happy and confident. Our broad curriculum ensures that our pupils have the opportunity to learn a wide range of subjects and try various activities to help them discover their passions and talents.
What is your school motto, and what’s the meaning behind it?
Iron Sharpeneth Iron: A high quality education will produce strong, well-rounded characters who will achieve great things, but also our children help each other to succeed.
What’s the one question prospective parents always ask when they come to visit - and what is your answer?
‘We know you have a great relationship with Rugby but where else do your children go?’
We work with parents to ensure that their children attend the senior school that is best for them. Whilst about half of our children do go to Rugby, we also send children to Uppingham, Oundle, Stowe, Shrewsbury, Repton, Harrow, Eton, and plenty more besides.
Which is your favourite area of the school grounds?
The Wild Gardens is always a favourite spot of mine. BG is lucky to have three sets of woodlands and we use them regularly for lessons and activities. As well as using the woods for campfire cooking with our Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts, I also run Wild Wednesday and Super Saturday where I supervise groups of pupils as they climb trees and build dens in the woods.
Of which one thing about your school are you most proud?
The breadth of opportunity we offer our children which I firmly believe that this is key to our pupils’ happiness. We offer this in two ways – the breadth of our academic curriculum and the creativeness of our teachers means that our children’s learning is hands on. From spending a lesson in our air raid shelter learning about the Blitz, to spending a Science lesson exploring the woods looking at leaf litter and understanding the many processes that happen at this level, to baking naan bread as part of a geography and RE project on India we look to ensure that our children live their learning.
Outside of the main curriculum, we offer a broad range of activities and options to pupils with everything from trampolining, Zumba, debating, electronics to golf, fencing and riding.
Tell us something about the history of the school
Originally started as a school in 1873 and in its current location since 1887, BG prides itself on developing happy, confident and successful pupils. Situated in 90 acres, our main Prep School building was originally bought by Captain Washington Hibbert in 1846 and it was Hibbert who first asked Augustus Pugin to build a mansion around the pre-existing Georgian farmhouse. During this period Pugin was also designing the interiors, and the exterior detailing, of the House of Lords and the Commons, so we see ourselves as the Palace of Westminster's little sibling! Pugin designed the overall plan of the building, the tiles, the stained glass, the panelling, the heraldic beasts on the staircase, the wallpaper, the door furniture and other structures around the grounds including the walled garden and adjacent cottage.
In the summer of 1887, the Reverend Walter Earle moved the school he had started in Yarlet in 1873 to Bilton Grange. One of the first additions Walter Earle made was to convert the brewhouse and the working men’s room to become the Chapel we enjoy today, as well as the classroom building which was designed to fit seamlessly with the Pugin mansion.
In 1938 the kindergarten for day boys and girls was opened at Homefield. Later to become a school for boys up to age 8 and for girls up to age 12, the Homefield building is now used for our Pre-Prep department catering for boys and girls from Reception to Year 3.
The School has continued to innovate over the years adding the Ravenscroft Theatre in the 1960s, followed by our indoor 25m swimming pool in the 1970s, a Sports Hall and Music School in the 1980s and a Craft Design and Technology centre (now known as Design Technology) in the 1990s and in 2015 we opened our new hockey pitch in the Pugin walled garden.