Meet the Head - Will Newman, Casterton, Sedbergh Preparatory School
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:47 23 October 2017
Will Newman was recently appointed headmaster of Casterton, Sedbergh Preparatory School. He talks to Lancashire Life about his passion for education
Where were you previously?
I have been deputy headmaster of Taunton Prep School for the last three years. Before that, I was head of boarding, director of sport and assistant head at Edgeborough, in Surrey – quite a few different hats to wear!
What is your own background in education? Where and what subject did you study?
I emerged after four years at the University of Exeter with a first class degree in Physical Education, before winning a Commonwealth Scholarship to study for a Master’s at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Canada is a fabulous country and after ‘home’, would rank as my favourite place to live.
What does a typical working day involve?
There is no such thing as a typical day for either a headmaster or his deputy! That is what is so exciting about the role and what sustains our enthusiasm for the job. However, it is nice to spend time with all three of the most important pieces of the puzzle – children, parents and staff.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
If you are passionate about teaching and leading a great team, then the role of headmaster is the obvious choice. It means I have the most amazing opportunity to provide children with the best springboard to success. At a more immediate level, there is nothing quite like chatting with nine-year-olds to help you remember what’s important in life!
What do you enjoy least about your job?
I have had a few - thankfully rare - moments in my career where a child has suffered a great loss. They are terribly sad times, but at least we are in a position to help.
How much time in the classroom do you spend?
As much as I can. I have always worked in roles that allowed me to get to understand every child: either through teaching in the classroom, on the games pitch or in the Boarding House. As headmaster, it’s my job to remain in the thick of the action, to get around the classrooms and to make sure that I know all the children’s various characters. After a long spell dealing with emails, the classroom feels like coming home.
Do you have any specific ambitions for your career or plans for the school that you would like to highlight?
I feel very privileged to have landed my dream job – my ambition can now be channelled into Sedbergh Prep itself. The School is in a great place and has enjoyed unrivalled growth in recent years. My priority has been to first get to know every moving part, from the children and their parents to the staff and the various routines. A pair of fresh eyes on a school is an exciting time; however, and brings with it the chance to refine and develop what is already working so well.
How has the new GCSE grading system affected teaching and pupils and do you think it has been a good thing?
At prep school level, we are fortunate to avoid the endless ebb and flow of various educational reforms. For us, good teaching is good teaching and we focus all our efforts on helping each child reach their potential. That said, our alignment with the senior school at Sedbergh does help to smooth the road towards what may prove to be a more challenging set of GCSEs.
What aspect of your school are you proudest of?
The children – what else?!