Meet the staff

Learn more about the staff at Downe House.

Leadership Team

Emma McKendrick Downe House Headmistress

Mrs Emma McKendrick

Headmistress

Emma has been the Headmistress of Downe House School for over twenty five 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

Mr Matthew Godfrey

Deputy Head

Matthew joined Downe House in September 2021. He holds a wealth of experience in educational leadership and boarding environments and brings much to our community.

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Mr Matthew Godfrey

Deputy Head

Matthew joined Downe House as Deputy Head in September 2021. Matthew holds a wealth of experience in educational leadership and boarding environments and brings much to our community.

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 graduated from the Sixth Form at Downe House in 2023, and two sons.

Genevieve Ford

Mrs Genevieve Ford

Deputy Head (Pastoral)

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

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Mrs Genevieve Ford

Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Genevieve 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.

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 Hugh Grant

Deputy Head (Academic)

Hugh joined us in 2023 as our Deputy Head (Academic). He works closely with the Heads of Department to ensure every pupil finds their academic life at Downe House to be interesting and vibrant.

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Mr Hugh Grant

Deputy Head (Academic)

Hugh graduated from New College, Oxford and went on to complete his PGCE at Homerton College, Cambridge. Before joining Downe, Hugh has taught Biology in Dubai, South Korea and at Tonbridge School. Whilst his subject is Biology, Hugh has taught all the Sciences in the past.

Hugh joined us in 2023 as our Deputy Head (Academic). We are delighted to gain from his wide range of teaching and management experience. As Deputy Head (Academic), Hugh works closely with the Heads of Department to ensure every pupil finds their academic life at Downe House to be interesting and vibrant, inspiring our pupils to accept the challenges in front of them, safe in the knowledge that they have a well-developed support network at their disposal.

Together we will find and celebrate your daughter’s strengths, as well as discover and work on the areas we need to develop. It is important that the curriculum at Downe is flexible enough to facilitate the individual journeys our students are on.

Philipa Toogood

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 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).

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.

Miss Kate Eaves

Assistant Head (Lower School)

As Assistant Head (Lower School), Kate oversees the academic progress and pastoral care of Remove and the Lower Fourth, ensuring our very youngest pupils have the most enriching, challenging but supportive start to their senior school journey. 

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Miss Kate Eaves

Assistant Head (Lower School)
Anna Deputy Head

Mrs Anna Dourountakis

Assistant Head (Upper School)

As Assistant Head (Upper School), Anna 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)

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

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 more than 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.”

Miss Georgina Taylor

Assistant Head (Sixth Form)

As Assistant Head (Sixth Form), Georgina oversees the academic progress and pastoral care of the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth, supporting girls through their A Levels and preparations for life beyond School.

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Miss Georgina Taylor

Assistant Head (Sixth Form)

Georgina’s career spans teaching and multiple boarding roles. She started her career at Concord College as a Geography Teacher and Sixth Form Boarding Parent before taking on the role of Head of Form 3 (Year 9). While at the same school, Georgina also worked on the safeguarding team. In 2020, at Wycombe Abbey where she was Head of Geography, Georgina moved back into boarding as Senior Housemistress.

We are delighted that Georgina joined Downe House in 2023, bringing an enormous amount of experience and expertise with her for her new role.

She is also a Governor at a local school and enjoys tutoring. She spent two summers in China working for a tutoring agency and enjoyed the experience so much that she has continued her tutoring in the UK at GCSE level.

Sixth Form is such an exciting part of a young person’s education, I am looking forward to being involved in this aspect of their individual journey and helping to shape their futures during and beyond Downe House.

Mrs Julia Burnett

Director of Finance and Operations

As the Director of Finance and Operations, Julia focuses on ensuring the efficient and rigorous running of the School’s finance function and diversifying revenue streams.

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Mrs Julia Burnett

Director of Finance and Operations

Julia is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles in audit, management consulting, and as the Bursar at a local prep school.

Julia joins the Downe House community during a period of significant political change in the independent school sector. Her focus is on ensuring the efficient and rigorous running of the School’s finance function and diversifying revenue streams, including through the Downe House international ventures.

Outside of her professional responsibilities, Julia enjoys horse riding, spending quality time on family holidays island hopping around Greece and skiing with her husband and two daughters.

Alasdair Heath

Mr Alasdair Heath

Director of Estates and Services

Alasdair ensures that the practicalities of daily life at Downe House run smoothly. He is responsible for the School’s Health & Safety and Insurance functions as well as overseeing the Estates, Catering, Security, Housekeeping and Gardening teams.

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Mr Alasdair Heath

Director of Estates and Services

As the Director of Estates and Services, Alasdair ensures that the practicalities of daily life at Downe House run smoothly, he oversees the Estates, Catering, Security, Housekeeping and Gardening teams as well as the School’s Health and Safety and Insurance functions.

Alasdair is also responsible for developing the School’s Estate Strategy, be that our new buildings (most recently the development of the Murray Centre and new Lower School Boarding houses) as part of the Ten Year Vision, or the cyclical renovations of our boarding houses, communal spaces and classrooms.

When away from Downe, Alasdair is studying for an MBA, coaches Scotland age-group rugby teams and is the Chairman of Newbury Rugby Club.

Mr Cliff Kurn

Director of Digital Delivery and Innovation

Cliff has been working in the Education sector for the last 18 years and we are pleased to welcome him to Downe House.

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Mr Cliff Kurn

Director of Digital Delivery and Innovation

Cliff has been working in the Education sector for the last 18 years, which has included IT Director roles for a private UK University, a large international group of K12 schools, and consultancy in online assessment and risk management. He have lived in both the UAE and Switzerland, and has worked with people and organisations across a wide variety of countries with different cultural backgrounds.

However, Cliff argues that what’s probably more important is the fact that for over 30 years he has been married to a Junior school teacher and has 3 grown up children. He considers himself an expert with a staple gun and has survived the teenage years of one daughter!

Technology is a rapidly changing environment, which impacts our lives in many ways both negatively and positively. What I really enjoy is making the negative aspects simple and efficient to manage, and exploring how to get the best value out of the positive aspects. There is just as much enjoyment in seeing a teacher delighted by technology that works well and makes their lives easier, as there is seeing a student fully engaged in the experience of virtual reality. Apart from being able to work in a beautiful woodland setting, the main attraction for me to Downe House is the fact that I believe I can use my previous experience to add value and make a difference. Downe House is committed to providing highly engaging technology solutions for our students, and we have a dedicated and enthusiastic team across Information Technology, Audio Visual and Faculty to make this happen.

Mrs Maryanne Karian

Director of HR

We are ecstatic that Maryanne has become part of the HR team and our community. Her impressive journey into HR will greatly benefit the vast team at Downe and further create a more beneficial environment for all.

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Mrs Maryanne Karian

Director of HR

Maryanne’s impressive studies include a degree in Business Studies with French and Spanish, where she found herself drawn to modules focusing on Employee Culture and Employment Law. This passion led her to further her knowledge with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and attain an Advanced Diploma in Employment Law and ultimately sparked the start of her love for education.

Starting as a Graduate Management Trainee specialising in HR at Marks & Spencer, Maryanne transitioned to the NHS, gaining valuable experience in recruiting, and managing people issues for medical, dental, and healthcare professionals in central London hospitals. Upon relocating to Windsor after marriage, she diversified her experience across various organisations, including an educational publisher, a marketing agency, and as a HR Manager for Children’s Services at Berkshire West PCT. Her journey across various sectors has strengthened her with a deep understanding of people dynamics and she plans to incorporate this into daily life at Downe.

During maternity leave, Maryanne continued her engagement with the education sector by working part-time as a Clerk to Governors for several schools. This experience deepened her appreciation for the transformative impact of education on students’ lives. Throughout her career, Maryanne has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to personal development. She has become a trained Mental Health First Aider and a facilitator on the Bereavement Journey course, matters which she maintains have the upmost importance in the workplace.

Ms Hannah Litvack

Development Director

As the Development Director, Hannah supports the continued success of fundraising at Downe House. She collaborates with Foundation Trustees, senior leaders and the community as a whole, to deliver our ambitious plans for development, including the future vision for enhancing our estate and increasing our bursary opportunities.

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Ms Hannah Litvack

Development Director

Hannah started her career in the art world and the heritage sector, after completing a degree in German and History of Art at the University of Edinburgh and a History of Art MA at the University of Manchester. She then moved into the higher education sector, fundraising for the University of Oxford. During her time there, she worked on a wide range of philanthropic projects for the Bodleian Libraries and several of its Colleges.

Hannah is looking forward to working with the Downe House community to preserve the very best of the School for future generations of pupils, whilst continuing to innovate at the forefront of boarding education.

I was drawn to working at Downe House because of the unparalleled experience of the girls: from their academic teaching, pastoral care and resources to their extra-curricular activities. I am thrilled to be part of a school that values heritage and innovation in equal measure!

Pastoral Management and Housemistresses

Ellie Lleywellen

Mrs Ellen Llewellyn

Director of Pupil Wellbeing, Head of Learning for Life

Ellen joins the Senior Management Team as Director of Pupil Wellbeing where she is instrumental in ensuring that our pupils’ wellbeing and safety continue to be at the heart of everything we do.

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Mrs Ellen Llewellyn

Director of Pupil Wellbeing, Head of Learning for Life

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 overseeing the pastoral wellbeing and academic progress of the girls in York, Ellen provided individual 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.

Ellen has been part of the Senior Management Team for some time, and has recently been appointed Director of Pupil Wellbeing. In this new role, Ellen is instrumental in ensuring that our pupils’ wellbeing and safety continue to be at the heart of everything we do. Ellen now has a broad remit, with responsibilities ranging from overseeing our Learning for Life (formerly PSHE) programme and the wellbeing provision in the boarding houses and CCA programmes, to ensuring we meet our statutory obligations for our boarding provision and chairing our Student Wellbeing Committee.

Mrs Sofie McClymont

Director of Boarding, Teacher of Learning Skills

Sofie is Director of Boarding and works with the pastoral team and the Heads of Section to provide outstanding pastoral care and support for our pupils.

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Mrs Sofie McClymont

Director of Boarding, Teacher of Learning Skills

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, gaining 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 Digital Delivery and Innovation. 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.

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

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 works 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.

Sofie is now the Director of Boarding 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.

Mrs Alison Compton-Ilott

Head of Upper Fourth, Teacher of Geography

Alison joined Downe House in 2015 and has enjoyed being immersed in all aspects of School life. She now teaches Geography alongside being the Head of Upper Fourth.

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Mrs Alison Compton-Ilott

Head of Upper Fourth, Teacher of Geography
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 joined the Downe House staff in 2016.

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Mrs Kim Collingwood

Hermitage Housemistress, Teacher of PE

Mrs Alexandra Barlow

Hill Housemistress

Alex has 12 years of experience at Downe House and joins the Lower School House team in Hill.

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Mrs Alexandra Barlow

Hill Housemistress

I am delighted to be joining the Lower School House team, as the new Housemistress of Hill. My love for boarding began when I joined Downe House twelve years ago and I have had a variety of different roles across the school during my time here. The close-knit and positive community at Downe House is the reason I have remained for all these years, and I am incredibly proud of our School.

I will be joined in Hill by husband Paul, our three teenage daughters: Freya, Eleanor and Chloe and our whippet, Timber. Our daughter Eleanor is joining Downe House in September as part of the Sixth Form and our whole family is excited to live within such a beautiful woodland campus.

I look forward to working very closely with our dedicated House team and ensuring that every girl feels safe and secure during her time with us. Hill House is a home away from home and a place that girls can grow in confidence and be who they want to be. As a mother of three daughters, I truly understand the needs of young women and why providing excellent pastoral care should be embedded within the fabric of our school.

Mrs Sophie Hughes

Darwin Housemistress, Teacher of PE

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, Teacher of PE

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 their wonderful dog, Milo the beagle.

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.

Mrs Lizzie Broyd

AGN Housemistress, Teacher of PE

Lizzie joined Downe in 2004 and has always been attached to the Upper School houses. We are delighted that she now takes on the role of Housemistress. She also teaches PE.

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Mrs Lizzie Broyd

AGN Housemistress, Teacher of PE

Lizzie has been considering the role of Housemistress for some time, having grown up in a boarding house and been a resident House Tutor at Downe House too. Indeed, for the past three years she has been a Tutor attached to AGN specifically. We are delighted to have someone so committed to the girls and with such a strong boarding background taking up the reins.

We hope to bring not only a sense of family but also a touch of fun and camaraderie. Whether through family-­oriented events, shared meals, or just casual conversations, we look forward to building meaningful connections with each of you.

Joining Lizzie in AGN House will be her husband, Ben, their son Elliot, their daughter Rosie, and they will also be joined by Ben’s daughter Ruby from time-­to-­time.

Our family values openness, kindness, and a sense of togetherness. We are enthusiastic about getting to know each and every one of you and creating a supportive environment where everyone feels like an integral part of our extended family.

Mrs Ruth Kingston

AGS Housemistress, Teacher of Geography

Ruth has spent her whole life in pastoral care and finds the role of Housemistress extremely rewarding. She is also a Teacher of Geography.

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Mrs Ruth Kingston

AGS Housemistress, Teacher of Geography

Ruth has spent her whole life in pastoral care and finds the role of Housemistress extremely rewarding. Being able to help each young lady through her educational journey by supporting them socially, emotionally as well as academically is the asset of a holistic education. She is also teaches Geography.

Ruth has been a Housemistress in four different continents, starting just down the road at Prior’s Court Prep School. She moved to New Zealand in 2000 and had both her children there, they are now at University here in the UK. She has also taught in Hong Kong and her last post was in Maputo, Mozambique.

I have been very lucky to have had such a wide range of experiences and meet some truly amazing students.

Miss Rebecca Hillier

Aisholt Housemistress, Teacher of Religious Studies

Becky joined Downe House following two years as a Resident Tutor and Head of Religious Studies and Philosophy. Alongside being Housemistress for Aisholt, she teaches Religious Studies.

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Miss Rebecca Hillier

Aisholt Housemistress, Teacher of Religious Studies

Becky joined Downe House following two years as a Resident Tutor at Dauntsey’s, where she was also Head of Religious Studies and Philosophy. Before this, Becky was Director of Enrichment and Head of Religious Studies at an independent girl’s day school in Buckinghamshire. Before becoming a teacher, Becky studied Social Anthropology with French at Sussex University, with a year abroad at Universite Laval, Quebec.

Having been a boarder herself since the age of 7, Becky knows what it is like to live in a home away from home, how important the support from House Staff is, and what a difference a boarding education can make.

Becky lives with her partner Jon in the holidays and is slowly learning to love running.

There are so many opportunities available to girls at Downe and I believe that the education and experiences Aisholt girls get will set them up beautifully for successful, happy, and fulfilling lives in the future.

Mrs Charlotte Sabnis

Holcombe Housemistress, Head of Modern Foreign Languages

Charlotte started at Downe House as our Head of Modern Foreign Languages in 2023. She will continue to teach French alongside her new position as Housemistress of Holcombe.

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Mrs Charlotte Sabnis

Holcombe Housemistress, Head of Modern Foreign Languages

Charlotte started at Downe House as our Head of Modern Foreign Languages in 2023. She will continue to teach French alongside her new position as Housemistress of Holcombe.

After completing a degree in Arabic, French and Russian at the University of St Andrews, she joined Oundle School in 2016 where she taught French and Russian and became Head of French. Charlotte also worked as a Deputy Housemistress in a girls’ boarding house, and as Acting Housemistress.

I love having my toes both in academic and pastoral waters as I can see how crucial it is for both of these to work in tandem to bring out the best in our pupils. Judging from the wonderful girls I already know in the house, it is clear that Holcombe helps to shape kind, curious and ambitious young women and I look forward to carrying this forward.

In her spare time, Charlotte enjoys running, studying new languages (currently Hindi!) and cooking. Her husband, who works as a university lecturer in Engineering, and their golden retriever are looking forward to life in Holcombe House.

Miss Annabel Brown

Tedworth Housemistress, Teacher of Religious Studies

Annabel is an experienced Housemistress, having previously been Housemistress of Hill at Downe House and a Housemistress in a co-ed full-boarding school. She also teaches Religious Studies.

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Miss Annabel Brown

Tedworth Housemistress, Teacher of Religious Studies

Annabel is an experienced 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.

Miss Georgiana Oldham

Willis (GO) Housemistress, Higher Education Advisor, Teacher of French

Georgiana is a Housemistress alongside being a member of the Higher Education Team. She also teaches French and facilitates the Ivy House Award – a leadership Award for girls in the Lower Sixth.

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Miss Georgiana Oldham

Willis (GO) Housemistress, Higher Education Advisor, Teacher of French

Georgiana joined Downe House as an Assistant Housemistress in 2020 and was delighted to take on the role of Housemistress just a few years later.

I feel very privileged to be able to guide these girls through their final two years at Downe House. One of the many rewarding elements of this job is spending time with the girls outside the classroom and I am very much looking forward to seeing them flourish and grow.

Georgiana graduated from the University of London, Institute of Paris with a BA in French Studies, after having spent four years studying in France. She then moved to Switzerland, where she began her career as an Assistant House Parent at an International School. She remained there for three years, rising to the position of Senior House Parent, before returning to the UK. Georgiana is currently studying remotely for a Masters in Education at the University of Bath.

In addition to her role within Willis, Georgiana is a member of the Higher Education Team and enjoys working with the girls to help them discover their options for life after Downe. She also teaches French and facilitates the Ivy House Award – a leadership Award for girls in the Lower Sixth.

Mrs Victoria Ryan Willis housemistress meet the staff downe house

Ms Victoria Ryan

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

Alongside her role as a Sixth Form Housemistress, Victoria is also Head of Sixth Form General Education and supports all the girls completing the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). She also teaches in the Drama Department.

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Ms Victoria Ryan

Willis (VKR) Housemistress, Teacher of Drama, 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.

She has been Housemistress of Willis (VKR) at Downe House for fourteen years.

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.

Miss Stephanie Toogood

York (SAT) Housemistress, Teacher of English and PE

Stephanie joined the Sixth Form Housestaff team as Housemistress of York in 2022 with a wealth of pastoral and academic experience within boarding schools. She also teaches English and PE.

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Miss Stephanie Toogood

York (SAT) Housemistress, Teacher of English and PE

Stephanie started her career at a boarding school, The Armidale School in Australia, while studying a Bachelor of Education at the University of New England. Stephanie was drawn to teaching through coaching gymnastics, which she did alongside her own training.

In 2017 she decided to make the move to the UK, to enjoy travelling Europe and gain an insight into teaching overseas. Stephanie started work at The Dragon School before moving to Queen Anne’s School as a graduate assistant in the Lower Sixth boarding house. Her last position was at Wycombe Abbey as an assistant housemistress where she also taught English and PE.

She is joined in York by her partner Charles and their energetic Welsh collie, Freddie!

Mrs Bethan Mears-Smith

York (BMS) Housemistress, Teacher of English

Bethan has previously been Housemistress of Holcombe and then AGN in Upper School. We are delighted that she now takes on the challenge of the Sixth Form in York. Bethan also teaches English.

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Mrs Bethan Mears-Smith

York (BMS) Housemistress, Teacher of English

After teaching boys for six years at Monmouth School, Bethan became the Resident Tutor in AGS and an English teacher at Downe House, followed by Housemistress of Holcombe and then AGN. She worked her way around the Upper School successfully and now takes on the challenges of the Sixth Form.

She is joined in York by her husband Josh, daughter Alice and new baby boy Flynn – plus Alfie the dog!

As the youngest of four girls, I understand and value the importance of an encouraging and responsive family environment to cultivate happiness, and the boarding house offers the chance to create a second home.

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