Meet our new Deputy Head – Sian Dawson

I have been at Oxford High School for a number of years and was excited to read of the opportunity at Hatherop Castle and how many values both schools share. My own career to date has been varied, spanning education, public sector finance recruitment, psychology and social work. I have been Head of Early Years, Head of Upper School, Director of Studies and Acting Deputy Head to name but a few roles and I cannot place a high enough value on the benefits of a broad and varied career and the levels of resilience needed to overcome challenge. This rich mixture of experiences has directly contributed to my capacity as an educator.

I do not believe that a rigid curriculum that places an undue weighting on exam preparation actually produces the best results or rounded individuals. I have seen curriculums that lack context, diversity and enjoyment resulting in disenfranchised pupils and a poor educational experience that they won’t quickly forget. Great results should be a bi-product of a truly rich and contextualised education that is ambitious, relevant and caters for each child.

We should all have high expectations of the pupils academically and reach the same high standards of pastoral care. Age expectations are important but should not be limiting if regarded as a glass ceiling or minimum requirement. Personalised provision is essential to allow each child to make their maximum progress and develop a pride and love of their school that nurtures them. The understanding that challenge, difficulty and mistakes are part of development and progression instils a positive work ethic that I believe children carry with them for life.

Childhood is so fleeting and we need to bear in mind how fast-paced and technology-focused our existence has now become where the virtue of patience and awareness of one’s place in society and the world at large is often sacrificed to the culture of instant gratification and a self-serving existence. In an increasingly global community our children need an appropriate sense of their place in the world, being open to change and able to think critically, creatively and with compassion.

I am really looking forward to becoming part of the Hatherop community and meeting the students and parents – albeit still from a distance for now. Outside of school I am a keen apiarist and am kept on my toes with three young children. As a family we love spending time outdoors and I’m a firm believer in instilling an appreciation for our natural world and educating my children from the earliest age in how we can help sustain, rebuild and protect it.