Influencers in Independent Education

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Sally-Anne Huang

High Master | St Paul’s School

Sally-Anne Huang was educated at Bolton School and is now a member of their governing body. She also has experience of governance of boarding and prep schools. She read classics and English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, has an MSc in educational leadership and management and, more recently, completed a masters degree in children’s literature, which is a personal passion of hers. Sally-Anne is high master of St Paul’s School, having previously been headmistress of James Allen’s Girls’ School, and Kent College, Pembury. Her professional interests include the importance of cultural diversity within schools and the power of performing arts in pupil experience.

Leo Winkley, Headmaster | Shrewsbury School

Leo Winkley was appointed 28th Headmaster of Shrewsbury School in September 2018. He began his teaching career as Head of Religious Studies at Ardingly College where he also looked after a Lower Sixth boarding house. From there he moved to The Cheltenham Ladies’ College as Head of Religious Studies. In 2004, he was appointed Deputy Head of Bedales School where he was responsible for boarding and pastoral care. He then spent eight years as Head Master of St Peter’s School in York. A passionate advocate of boarding, Leo was Chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association (2016-17). He believes strongly in community engagement and partnership work, chairing the City of York Independent State Schools Partnership and sitting on the Independent Schools’ Council expert group ‘Schools Together’.

Millan Sachania, Headmaster | Streatham & Clapham High School

Dr Millan Sachania has been headteacher of Streatham & Clapham High School since 2012. He obtained a double first-class degree and a doctorate in musicology at Christ’s College, Cambridge and, alongside his distinguished teaching career, has also published many articles on music aesthetics, as well as new editions of classical works. Millan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Freeman of the City of London, a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, a member of the HMC/GSA Universities’ Committee, a Governor of Halliford School, Shepperton, a Trustee of the Royal Society of Musicians, and a serving team inspector for the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

Nicki Mattin, Principal | Spires Academy

I was appointed as the Principal of Spires Academy in September 2012.  Spires is a small non selective secondary school in the fully selective county of Kent.  It therefore serves a community that is characterised by a high level of disadvantage and low academic levels on entry who suffer from low aspiration and damaged self-esteem.  The level of need is high.   I have over 20 years experience of working in schools which has shaped my philosophy and vision.  I believe that schools should equip their students with the confidence, competence, knowledge, skills and understanding to fit easily and actively into a rapidly changing society.  Partnership working is critical to this. During my career I have been fortunate to work on projects that have had influence locally, nationally and internationally.  My school was a founder member of EKST (East Kent Schools Together) an innovative independent-state school partnership that also includes a local university.  I am also a State School voice on the STG (Schools Together Group).

Barnaby Lenon

Chairman | Independent Schools Council

Barnaby Lenon was brought up on a council estate in south London. He was educated at Eltham College, Oxford University and he won the Cambridge University prize for education. He taught at Eton for 12 years, was deputy head of Highgate School, headmaster of Trinity School Croydon and head of Harrow. He has been a governor of 22 schools and is currently a trustee of the nine independent and state schools in the King Edward’s Birmingham Foundation. He is professor of education at the University of Buckingham, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, and a trustee of the Yellow Submarine charity. He has recently published two books, Much Promise: Successful Schools in England, and Other People’s Children: What Happens to the Academically Least Successful 50%?

Nina Gunson, Head | Sheffield High School for Girls

Nina Gunson is a dynamic, straight talking and down to earth school leader who cares passionately about quality education and enabling young people to achieve their potential. She is Head at Sheffield High School for Girls, a GDST school with almost 1000 pupils from 3-18, and she chairs the GSA NE region. She has extensive experience of educational and strategic leadership and speaks regularly on issues ranging from partnerships to innovation in the classroom. A Molecular Biology graduate, Mrs Gunson holds a PGCE and an MSc in Multimedia and E-Learning and began her teaching career as a Biology teacher at Bradford Girls' Grammar School.

Nick Dennis

Director of Studies | St Francis' College

Nick Dennis is currently director of studies at St. Francis’ College, Letchworth and also a fellow of the Schools History Project, the UK’s premier historical education think tank. He has presented a series of historical documentary programmes for the World History Project, where he also sits on the advisory board. Nick is a member of the GSA’s Inclusion Committee in addition to being part of the National Governance Association’s diversity and inclusion advisory group. Alongside teaching, Nick has worked with a variety of organisations such as EuroClio, Europeana and Apple. Nick has published articles on history education, diversity, educational research and the use of technology to enhance learning.

Tom Arbuthnott, Deputy Head (partnerships) | Eton College

Tom Arbuthnott is Deputy Head (Partnerships) at Eton College and oversees the school's strategies to widen access to talented boys from diverse backgrounds, along with responsibility for school partnerships. He oversees Eton's strong and multiple relationships with state sector schools and the community engagement programme, as well as the annual summer schools. Tom studied at both Oxford and Cambridge universities before becoming a teacher in 2004. He taught History and English in schools of various types through Birmingham and Chelmsley Wood before returning to Eton in 2016 as Eton's first Director of Outreach and Partnership. Tom is responsible for delivering the Eton2020 project, which will see Eton investing £100m in closing the gap over the next five years. 

Irfan Latif, Principal | DLD College London

Irfan is currently the Principal of DLD College London, part of the Alpha Plus Group of schools which was recently name ‘Boarding of the School of the Year 2020’. He was educated at Emanuel School and graduated with honours in Chemistry from King’s College, London. His first headship took him to Somerset where he was Headmaster of Sexey’s School (BSA) in Bruton. Prior to this he was Deputy Head at Bedford School (HMC), Director of Science at St Benedict’s School in Ealing (HMC), Senior Housemaster at Whitgift School (HMC) and Assistant Housemaster and Teacher of Chemistry at The Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys (HMC). He has been the Chairman of the State Boarding Schools' Forum, the Vice Chair of the Boarding Schools' Association and is currently it’s London Char. He also sits on the Executive Committee of the BSA as the Inclusion and Diversity representative and is the co-founder of the ISC’s Inclusion and Diversity Group.

Edward Valletta​

Bursar and Clerk to the Governors | Kimbolton School

Ben McCarey​, Head | Holyport College​

Having spent the early part of his career entirely in comprehensive, state education, Ben McCarey joined Holyport College, a state boarding school partnered with Eton College, as Deputy Head Master when when it opened in September 2014. He became Head Master in April 2019 having guided the College to an Outstanding judgement by OFSTED. He is passionate about ensuring that education is defined not just by the narrowest set of academic outcomes but that young people in state education also receive the rich opportunities and experiences of their peers in the independent sector.

Chris Seal, Principal, Shrewsbury International School

Chris Seal has spent two decades living and working in independent schools. As tutor at Woodbridge, Housemaster at Trent College, Deputy Head at Licensed Victuallers’ Ascot and latterly Deputy Head at Millfield, he also experienced boarding from close range. Chris a Physical Education and History teacher also has spent all of that time in the classroom delivering teaching to varied student profiles. Chris was a BSA certificate tutor and then a BSA Diploma tutor over a ten year period mentoring colleagues all over the UK and combined this with consultancy in the UK, Malaysia, China and South Korea. Looking back, these consultancies were to pave the way for a move to Bangkok in 2017 to take up the role of Principal at Shrewsbury International School. Now Chris brings his experience of holistic education and the boarding ethos to a highly selective day school that continues to grow in number and stature. Follow Chris on Twitter @lessonflipper.

Ms Gwen Byrom, Director of Education Strategy, NLCS International

Gwen has wealth of educational experience after more than 20 years of teaching and leading in boarding and day, single sex and co-educational, maintained and independent schools in the UK. She has led teams in some of the UK’s most prestigious schools, including Roedean School and The Cheltenham Ladies’ College. From 2011-2018, Gwen led Loughborough High School, a girls’ school in the UK East Midlands. Whilst Head, she was heavily involved in the Girls’ Schools Association, which represents some of the very best independent girls’ schools in the UK. She became President of the Association in 2018, representing the interests of member schools nationally and internationally. Gwen has also worked as a mentor for school leaders and served as the education governor for independent schools in the UK and internationally. She regularly writes on education matters for a range of publications. In September 2019, Gwen joined the NLCS International Team as the Director of Education Strategy. Gwen’s role is to offer training and consultancy services globally, and to ensure that the same high standards and educational vision are held within all schools that carry the NLCS name.

Vicky Bingham, Head at South Hampstead High School GDST

Vicky Bingham has been Head at South Hampstead High School GDST since January 2017. Before this, she was Academic Deputy Head at Guildford High School, where she began her teaching career as a Classics teacher. She was also Head of Classics at St Catherine’s School, Bramley, for six years. She holds an MA in Classics from Keble College, Oxford, and went to school at the European School in Brussels. During her time as a Classics teacher, she discovered a love of the spoken word, coaching countless students for success in debating competitions and in Latin and Greek declamation, a subject she continues to train novice Classics teachers in at Kings College, London. Having spent her career in girls’ schools, she is passionate about enabling young women to find their voice. Vicky has served HMC as the London Division Secretary and now as HMC Additional Vice Chair. She is a Governor of The Hall School in Hampstead. In September 2019, Gwen joined the NLCS International Team as the Director of Education Strategy. Gwen’s role is to offer training and consultancy services globally, and to ensure that the same high standards and educational vision are held within all schools that carry the NLCS name.

Christina Astin, Education consultant - Partnerships and Leadership

Christina was Founder-Chair of the Schools Together Group, an expert group of the Independent Schools Council, and Head of Partnerships at The King’s School, Canterbury and now provides leadership and partnerships consultancy in schools. She established three successful multi-school partnerships at King’s and headed an impactful programme of projects with over sixty other schools and community organisations. Prior to this she taught physics for over 20 years and as Head of Science co-founded Young Scientists Journal. “After seeing Christina initiate and deliver many educational projects, events and partnership opportunities, I take great pleasure in recommending her wholeheartedly as a consummate practitioner with an absolute focus on giving children the very best learning experiences and helping others to do so too.” Leo Winkley, Headmaster, Shrewsbury School. Schools looking to develop their partnerships with state schools can contact Christina for advice, bespoke consultancy or mentoring: