Meet the staff

Learn more about the staff at Downe House.

Leadership Team

Mrs Emma McKendrick

Headmistress

Mrs Emma McKendrick has been the Headmistress of Downe House School for over twenty years. Read the welcome from the Headmistress.

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Mrs Emma McKendrick

Headmistress

Emma is a linguist who was educated at the Universities of Liverpool and Birmingham. She was Headmistress of the Royal School Bath from 1994-97 and took up her appointment as Headmistress of Downe House in 1997.

She has a great deal of experience as a Governor of a variety of independent Senior and Prep Schools and was a member of the Independent Schools’ Examination Board. She is a Trustee of the Prep School Baccalaureate, a Member of GSA, HMC and BSA and a Fellow of the RSA.

She is married and has two sons. When time allows, she enjoys travel, the theatre and cinema, and spending time with her family.

Matthew Godfrey Deputy Head Downe House

Mr Matthew Godfrey

Deputy Head

Mr Matthew Godfrey joined Downe House in September 2021. Matthew holds a wealth of experience in educational leadership and boarding environments and will bring much to our community.

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Mr Matthew Godfrey

Deputy Head

Matthew joined Downe House as Deputy Head in September 2021. He is a graduate of Durham University and holds a Master’s Degree in Education. He started his career with the global consultancy firm Accenture but decided to switch to teaching after seven years in business. Matthew completed his teacher training at the Institute of Education (University of London) in 2000 and has taught English at secondary schools ever since in both the maintained and independent sectors.

Most recently, he was Deputy Head (External Relations) at Caterham School in Surrey; before this, he was Director of Boarding at Brighton College.

Matthew enjoys writing and, for a period, wrote a column about teaching in the Daily Telegraph. Matthew is a keen tennis player and hiker. He is married with three children: a daughter, who is a Sixth Former at Downe House, and two sons.

Mrs Genevieve Ford

Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Mrs Genevieve Ford became Deputy Head (Pastoral) at Downe House after working as Housemistress of AGS and then Head of Upper School. Genevieve is responsible for the residential welfare, pastoral care and wellbeing of each student, working closely with Housestaff.

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Mrs Genevieve Ford

Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Genevieve graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in Theology and Religious Studies. After becoming a member of the Downe House community, she became an Upper School Housemistress before accepting the role of Head of Upper School. Genevieve has an in-depth understanding of boarding and life at Downe House and works closely with staff across the School to ensure that every girl feels secure, known and safe. As Deputy Head (Pastoral), Genevieve has introduced and is constantly developing the unique-to-Downe Wellbeing programme, Finding Balance, which seeks to promote self-care, healthy minds and bodies. Genevieve is also the School’s Designated Safeguarding Lead.

“We feel very privileged in our roles and work closely with parents and the girls to ensure that there is strong communication and mutual trust.”

Mr Mark Hill

Deputy Head (Academic)

Mr Mark Hill is Deputy Head (Academic) at Downe House and is also involved in the Sixth Form curriculum as a teacher of History and academic tutor.

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Mr Mark Hill

Deputy Head (Academic)

Mark completed his first degree in History, pursuing research by completing an MA in International Relations and History. Mark then started working in publishing for an American company. As a career shift, Mark then trained to be a teacher and undertook a PGCE. After qualifying as a teacher, Mark had a variety of roles in a range of different maintained schools and colleges including Head of Key Stage, Head of Department and Head of Year.

At Downe House, Mark is responsible for academic aspects of the School such as curriculum development, assessment design and development. He has worked closely with Cambridge Assessment on qualification development and undertook a Masters in Education 2006-2008, specialising in assessment design and leadership capacity building. Mark certainly exemplifies the statement that “learning is a lifelong experience” and is currently studying for an MSc in Human Resource Management which aids his current role as Deputy Head (Academic), as well as teaching History and being an Academic Tutor in the Sixth Form.

Mrs Gilpin Jones

Assistant Head (Lower School)

Mrs Judith Gilpin Jones was delighted to join Downe House as Assistant Head (Lower School) in 2008 following a long association with the School, having watched her own daughter grow and flourish here as a pupil.

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Mrs Gilpin Jones

Assistant Head (Lower School)

Having combined the posts of Senior Teacher and Director of Music at her previous school, as well as fulfilling her role as an Independent Schools’ Inspector, Judith was delighted to join a happy and dedicated team as Assistant Head (Lower School) in 2008. This followed on from watching her own daughter, Hannah spend seven incredibly happy years as a pupil at Downe House.

As a teacher of Wellbeing (PSHE) and the conductor of Once Removed, Judith teaches every girl in the Lower School which gives her an added insight into the girls’ individual characters both academically and pastorally. She has been residential in two boarding schools during her teaching career and, with over ten years at Downe House, Judith understands the great privilege of being part of your daughter’s social and academic development. As Assistant Head (Lower School), Judith oversees your daughter’s academic progress and pastoral care, playing a major role in securing her seamless, happy transition into life at Downe House.

Mrs Anna Dourountakis

Assistant Head (Upper School)

As Assistant Head (Upper School), Mrs Anna Dourountakis oversees the academic progress and pastoral care of the Upper Fourth, Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth during which girls complete their GCSEs.

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Mrs Anna Dourountakis

Assistant Head (Upper School)

Before working at Downe House, Anna worked at various schools in the UK. Her career in education spans nearly twenty years and she is passionate about educating girls. Anna has worked within a boarding environment for the past twelve years and fully values the benefits of this model of education.

Anna graduated with Honours from the University of Natal (Durban) and then went on to receive a Postgraduate Diploma in Education.

“In the Upper School, we seek to encourage all of our girls to become more academically focussed, independent and outward-looking. Pastorally my main focus is that girls should be fundamentally happy and encouraged to develop a positive self-concept, sound judgement and motivation to succeed. My office has an ‘open-door policy’ ensuring that girls can get to see me effortlessly.”

Ms Melissa Stimson

Assistant Head (Sixth Form)

Starting out as a teacher of History and Politics, Ms Melissa Stimson also acquired extensive experience of working in boarding schools in Housestaff roles and is now Assistant Head (Sixth Form) at Downe House.

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Ms Melissa Stimson

Assistant Head (Sixth Form)

Mel started her teaching career in Scotland after graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a History degree and completing a PGCE in Glasgow. Since then she has gradually moved further south working in Preston, Oundle and Bristol!

After realising how much she enjoyed being involved in students’ academic and social development, she knew this was an area she wished to pursue further and took on additional pastoral roles.

Mel was appointed Assistant Head (Sixth Form) in 2012 and oversees the Housestaff teams of York and Willis as well as working with academic staff and tutors to support the girls’ academic progress.

“Being Head of Sixth Form at Downe House is a multi-faceted role and I thoroughly enjoy the variety of my current post as no two days are ever the same!”

Mrs Philippa Toogood

Assistant Head (Operations)

Philippa has had a long career encompassing different roles at Downe House. Overseeing operations, events and the running of the Murray Centre, Philippa is on the Leadership Team as Assistant Head (Operations).

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Mrs Philippa Toogood

Assistant Head (Operations)

Philippa graduated from the University of Leeds in 1996 with a degree in Theology and Religious Studies and then completed her PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church College. After teaching posts in North Oxfordshire and at Sherborne School for Girls, she joined Downe House in September 2003 as a part-time teacher of Religious Studies. Philippa took on the full-time role of Head of Religious Studies a year later.

Further posts at Downe including Examinations Officer and Director of Studies have allowed Philippa a significant amount of contact with girls, staff and parents around the School. She then became temporary Head of Sixth Form before being appointed as Director of the Murray centre, overseeing the academic daily life of the building as well as putting on an exciting and broad academic enrichment programme of events. Philippa is now Assistant Head (Operations), managing the ins an outs of life at Downe House.

I have found great satisfaction in being part of a team that helps them to realise their ambitions and go forwards into university or a career as confident and independent young women.

Mrs Kate Tuttle

HR Director

Mrs Kate Tuttle heads up the HR team and is also involved in daily school life as an academic tutor for AGS Upper School girls.

Mr David McClymont

Director of Information Systems

As Director of Information Systems at Downe House, Mr David McClymont is responsible for the school network and IT support and software across the school.

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Mr David McClymont

Director of Information Systems

David began working at Downe House as Network Manager before becoming Director of Information Systems. In his role, he manages the Information Systems team and AV team to ensure that all the tech works as it should to facilitate learning, sharing information and making work easier for staff, pupils and parents.

David is a passionate technophile and has driven our digital teaching and learning strategy, noticeably the roll-out of the Microsoft Surface Programme at School. We are also proud to be a Microsoft Showcase School and David and his team help other members of staff become Microsoft Innovative Educators.

David lives on site with his wife Mrs Sofie McClymont, Housemistress of AGS, and their two young daughters.

Mr Alasdair Heath

Director of Estates, Property and Services

As Director of Estates, Property and Services at Downe House, Mr Alasdair Heath ensures that all the practicalities of daily life at a boarding school run smoothly.

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Mr Alasdair Heath

Director of Estates, Property and Services

Not only this but Alasdair is involved in the School’s development and Ten Year Vision, whether that be the construction of new buildings such as the Murray Centre or renovations of boarding houses, classrooms and communal spaces.

Mr Colin Cockburn

Finance Bursar

Mr Colin Cockburn is on the leadership team at Downe House as the Finance Bursar and oversees the Bursary team.

Mr Huw Morgan

Director of Business Development

Huw Morgan joined the Downe House team in 2017 and is responsible for developing the international schools projects which involves liaising with prospective partners to establish new campuses overseas.

Housemistresses

Ellen Clark Housemistress York meet the staff downe house

Mrs Ellen Llewellyn

Director of Boarding (Operations) and York (EL) Housemistress

Mrs Ellen Llewellyn joined Downe House in September 2014 and after a year working in Willis House, moved over to York to become a Sixth Form Housemistress. From September 2020, Ellen supports the boarding life of the Schools as Director of Boarding (Operations).

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Mrs Ellen Llewellyn

Director of Boarding (Operations) and York (EL) Housemistress

Throughout her career, Ellen has worked in various schools as a Psychology teacher, including two years at an international school in Bejiing. She has always held the role of Sixth Form tutor and as such has been heavily involved in the UCAS process, seeing students successfully gain places at Oxford and Cambridge and various prestigious universities both in the UK and overseas.

Alongside her work overseeing the pastoral wellbeing and academic progress of the girls in York, Ellen provided individualised guidance for the Sixth Form girls to take them through the UCAS process and the array of Higher Education options available to them as a Higher Education Advisor.

From September 2020, Ellen has taken on the additional role of Director of Boarding (Operations) with the responsibility for House Systems, Learning for Life, Compliance with National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools, Tutor Induction, Training and Support, Medical Escorts and Tier 4 Visas.

Mrs Sofie McClymont

Director of Boarding (House Management)

Mrs Sofie McClymont is Director of Boarding (House Management) and lives onsite with her husband, Mr David McClymont, Director of Information Systems, and their two daughters.

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Mrs Sofie McClymont

Director of Boarding (House Management)

Sofie brings a wealth of experience from her previous career as a solicitor, specialising in employment law. Sofie’s interest in law stemmed from doing work experience when she was at school in a criminal law practice which led to her going on to study law at Cardiff University, a Diploma in Legal Practice and a two-year training contract with Geldards LLP in Cardiff.  Following her qualification, she moved to a permanent position at Royds Withy King in Wiltshire.

Her introduction to Downe House came through her husband, David McClymont who joined the IT Department in November 2007 and is now Director of Information Systems. As Sofie got to know the School, she became increasingly interested in working with the girls in a pastoral role and started to work in AGS House just one evening a week in January 2013. Within six months, she took on the post of Assistant Housemistress and the following year, she stepped up to the role of Housemistress for AGS House. In September 2020, Sophie took up the role of Director of Boarding (House Management). Over eight years on, Sofie hasn’t looked back and in addition, she worked within the Learning Skills Department providing one to one support for a number of girls at Downe House. Sofie gained her OCR Diploma in Teaching Learners with Dyslexia and Specific Learning Difficulties and continued studying her Level 7 Diploma in Dyslexia Assessment and Intervention.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my role as Housemistress, helping and motivating the girls to get the most out of their everyday school life.”

From September 2020, Sofie became Director of Boarding (House Management) with the responsibility for House Activities, CCA Liaison, Managing the Transition Programmes between Sections, Evening Duty Rotas, and ensuring parity of boarding experience across Houses.

5.5 Meet the Staff Kim Collingwood Hermitage Housemistress downe house school

Mrs Kim Collingwood

Hermitage Housemistress, Teacher of PE

With years of experience working at independent boarding schools, Kim Collingwood joined the Downe House staff in 2016.

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Mrs Kim Collingwood

Hermitage Housemistress, Teacher of PE

Kim grew up in Rutland before going to Loughborough University of Technology to read Physical Education, Sports Science and Recreation Management. Whilst at university she participated in many different sports and also competed successfully as an amateur jockey, point-to-point steeplechasing around the country at weekends. After graduating, Kim completed her PGCE at Homerton College, Cambridge, before taking her first Assistant Housemistress and teaching post in Bristol.

Before joining Downe House, Kim taught at a girls’ boarding school in Ascot, performing many different roles including Assistant Housemistress, Duke of Edinburgh Leader and Head of Year in a number of key stages. Kim believes an important aspect of a successful boarding house lies in setting standards and developing a positive ethos where each individual feels valued, safe and secure. As Housemistress of Hermitage Kim works hard to ensure each girl in her care enjoys all the opportunities available to her whilst being fully supported by the dedicated Hermitage team. Kim also gets involved in the wider school community as a teacher of PE, specialising in netball and cross-country.

Kim lives onsite with her husband Mark, their two children Jake and Skye aged eight and five and their dog Tanner.

Mrs Caroline King

Hill Housemistress, Teacher of PE

Caroline joined Downe House in September 2021, having lived and taught in Dubai, Shanghai and Muscat for the last 11 years. Hill House is in safe hands as Caroline supports them in their experience and helps them build strong friendships.

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Mrs Caroline King

Hill Housemistress, Teacher of PE

Caroline joined Downe House in September 2021, having lived and taught in Dubai, Shanghai and Muscat for the last 11 years. Hill House is in safe hands as Caroline supports them in their experience and helps them build strong friendships.

As an expert in lacrosse, Caroline has played for the England U21 and U21 Lacrosse teams. She graduated from Bright University with a Bed in Physical Education, Dance and Environmental Geography, before becoming Teacher in Charge of Lacrosse at an independent school in Surrey for seven years. Caroline then moved to the Middle East, where she taught PE for 11 years. Caroline moves to Downe House with her husband, Paul, and three daughters.

Caroline loves the outdoors and cannot wait to introduce the wonders of the UK countryside to her girls. She wants every girl in Hill House to feel supported to become an independent, proactive and confident individual, who is ready to step outside of her comfort zone.

Mrs Sophie Hughes

Darwin Housemistress

Sophie brings a wealth of school leadership and Physical Education experience to her Housemistress role at Downe House.

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Mrs Sophie Hughes

Darwin Housemistress

Sophie joined Downe House from the City of Freemen’s School, where she was teaching Physical Education in addition to being the Head of Year 7 or Year 8 in alternating years. Before her teaching career, she studied Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University.

Sophie lives with her husband Mike and their young daughter Elodie as well as the wonderful dog, Milo the beagle.

Sophie said, “I believe that your school years are a truly special time and my aim is to support the girls in every aspect of their school life. The Darwin Team and I work hard to ensure that every member of the House is encouraged to express herself without trepidation, whilst taking full advantage of the huge variety of opportunities that Downe House offers.”

Dr Kirsty Mason, Aisholt Housemistress smiles at camera

Dr Kirsty Mason

Aisholt Housemistress, Teacher of Classics and Latin

Kirsty joined Downe House in September 2021, and believes that boarding schools are a special environment, and feels privileged to share the experience with the girls at Downe House.

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Dr Kirsty Mason

Aisholt Housemistress, Teacher of Classics and Latin

Kirsty joined Downe House in September 2021, and believes that boarding schools are a special environment, and feels privileged to share the experience with the girls at Downe House.

Kirsty worked at the King’s School Canterbury whilst completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Kent, where she was also a sessional lecturer. She has also been an Assistant House Parent of Junior House at Lord Wandsworth College, alongside teaching Latin and Classical Studies. Her husband, James, and their black Labrador, Pru, join Kirsty as she moves to Downe House to take up the role of Housemistress of Aisholt.

Alongside her love of teaching, Kirsty coaches’ Junior netball and sings in several choirs; she can’t wait to meet more Downe House girls through these activities.

Mrs Beth Mears-Smith

AGN Housemistress, Teacher of English

English has always been a passion for Beth who now successfully combines teaching with being the Housemistress of AGN House. Each role informs the other and gives Beth useful insight into both the academic and pastoral aspects of the full boarding life the girls lead at Downe House.

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Mrs Beth Mears-Smith

AGN Housemistress, Teacher of English

English has always been a passion for Beth, who now successfully combines teaching with being the Housemistress of AGN House. Each role informs the other and gives Beth useful insight into both the academic and pastoral aspects of the full boarding life the girls lead at Downe House.

Beth taught for six years at Monmouth School, before joining Downe House as the Resident Tutor in AGS and English teacher, before becoming Housemistress of Holcombe and now AGN! She moves to AGN with her husband, Josh, their daughter and their dog, Alfie.

Beth truly knows what makes a happy Downe House girl and encourages a responsive family environment within her boarding house.

Mrs Bethan Tucker

AGN Housemistress, Teacher of Geography

With a specialist background in all-girls’ boarding environments, Beth brings a warm and caring environment to AGS, making it a home-from-home.

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Mrs Bethan Tucker

AGN Housemistress, Teacher of Geography

With a specialist background in all-girls’ boarding environments, Beth brings a warm and caring environment to AGS, making it a home-from-home.

Bethan read Geography at Durham University and has worked as a House Tutor, Assistant Housemistress and Head of Year to UV, all whilst teaching geography and coaching lacrosse. Bethan lives in AGS with her husband, Josh, two daughters, and Labrador, Pepper.

As a Housemistress, Bethan takes pride in her relationship with the girls as one of mutual respect and kindness. Having boarded herself, Bethan understands how important the lifelong friendships formed in House are and looks forward to supporting the girls as they make the most of every opportunity that Downe House offers.

Miss Rosalie McCann

Holcombe Housemistress, Teacher of Drama

Rosie continues to cultivate a happy and caring environment in Holcombe, moving from Assistant Housemistress to Housemistress in September 2021. As a teacher of drama, Rosie looks forward to helping the Holcombe girls find their voices.

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Miss Rosalie McCann

Holcombe Housemistress, Teacher of Drama

Rosie continues to cultivate a happy and caring environment in Holcombe, moving from Assistant Housemistress to Housemistress in September 2021. As a teacher of drama, Rosie looks forward to helping the Holcombe girls find their voices.

Rosie graduate from Warwick University with an undergraduate degree in Theatre and Performance Studies, and a PGCE. She joined Downe House in 2017 as an Assistant Housemistress in Holcombe from St George’s Ascot, where Rosie was Theatre Director in Residence. During this role, Rosie found her passion for single-sex education.

As a boarder herself, Rosie understands the importance of a close boarding community, and the impact this holds on a girls’ education and wellbeing, ensuring that Holcombe girls feel comfortable and supported to take on the opportunities presented to them.

Miss Annabel Brown

Tedworth Housemistress, Teacher of Religious Studies

Annabel is an experience Housemistress, having previously been Housemistress of Hill at Downe House and a Housemistress in a co-ed full-boarding school. We are delighted for Annabel to return as Housemistress of Tedworth, where she will make each school year happy, productive and memorable for all.

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Miss Annabel Brown

Tedworth Housemistress, Teacher of Religious Studies

Annabel is an experience Housemistress, having previously been Housemistress of Hill at Downe House and a Housemistress in a co-ed full-boarding school. We are delighted for Annabel to return as Housemistress of Tedworth, where she will make each school year happy, productive and memorable for all.

Annabel had a very happy time at boarding school herself before training at Drama School in London. She worked all over the world for several years as an actress, singer and event manager. She worked as a Deputy Housemistress in Essex and worked in marketing across two schools. After a while, Annabel couldn’t resist the call of reading a PGCE at Reading University, and that’s when Annabel joined Downe House!

With plenty of experience, and a warm, welcoming personality, the Tedworth girls will have a supportive and exciting atmosphere to call home.

Mrs Tara Reeve

Willis (TR) Housemistress, Director of Admissions, Teacher of Russian

Mrs Tara Reeve has worked at Downe House for over ten years after a career as a producer for BBC News.

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Mrs Tara Reeve

Willis (TR) Housemistress, Director of Admissions, Teacher of Russian

After graduating from Edinburgh University with a First Class MA Honours degree in Russian and then a PGDip in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, Tara spent eight years producing major news stories in the UK and Russia for BBC News.

Tara joined the Downe House community as a Russian teacher in 2008 and then headed up the World Languages Department, managing the widely-spoken languages of Chinese, Japanese and Russian. After becoming a Sixth Form tutor and an evening tutor in Aisholt, Tara became Housemistress of Willis. Tara lives in Willis House with her husband Ben, three daughters and two cats.

Tara leads the Admissions team and is directly in contact with our feeder schools as Director of Admissions.

Mrs Victoria Ryan Willis housemistress meet the staff downe house

Ms Victoria Ryan

Willis (VKR) Housemistress, Drama Teacher, Head of Sixth Form General Education

Ms Victoria Ryan has been a Housemistress of Willis (VKR) at Downe House for ten years as well as teaching Drama and overseeing the GPR/EPQ programme of academic enrichment for the Sixth Form.

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Ms Victoria Ryan

Willis (VKR) Housemistress, Drama Teacher, Head of Sixth Form General Education

After a degree in English and a PGCE in English and Drama, Victoria began teaching drama and became involved in pastoral care of Sixth Form girls as an Assistant Housemistress, working at a variety of boarding schools.

Victoria lives in Willis House with her son and enjoys working with the Sixth Form, supporting the girls both pastorally and also through the academic enrichment which she coordinates.

“I feel very privileged to share my life with the girls in Willis and I am particularly pleased to stay with the girls for two years, providing invaluable continuity from Lower to Upper Sixth.”

Mrs Grace Hamilton

York (GNH) Housemistress, Teacher of History

Grace Hamilton joined the Sixth Form Housestaff team as Housemistress of York after previous pastoral and academic roles in boarding schools.

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Mrs Grace Hamilton

York (GNH) Housemistress, Teacher of History

Grace started her teaching career at Marlborough College having completed a BA in History at Royal Holloway University. During this time Grace balanced her studies with being an U21 England and Great Britain hockey goalkeeper.

Grace then moved on to St John’s School in Leatherhead to work as both a History teacher and an Assistant Housemistress.

I feel very privileged to be joining Downe House as a Teacher of History and Housemistress of York in September 2019 to guide your daughters in their final two years of school. Importantly, our team will be working together to ensure the girls leave as confident and independent individuals ready for the challenges of the wider world!”

Miss Kerry Treacy

York (KT), Teacher of Drama

Kerry is involved in all aspects of Sixth Form life from Housemistress to facilitating the LVI Ivy House leadership award. As previous Assistant Housemistress of York, Kerry is at home with the Sixth Form girls and enjoys supporting them in the next stage of their academic career.

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Miss Kerry Treacy

York (KT), Teacher of Drama

Kerry is involved in all aspects of Sixth Form life from Housemistress to facilitating the LVI Ivy House leadership award. As previous Assistant Housemistress of York, Kerry is at home with the Sixth Form girls and enjoys supporting them in the next stage of their academic career.

Kerry graduated from Exeter University with a BA in Drama. She then worked as a founder member of staff in a state free boarding school, as a Resident Fellow. She set up the Drama department and moved to Housemistress after completing her teacher training. Kerry joined Downe House as an Assistant Housemistress in York, and the girls instantly loved her caring and supportive nature.