Meet the staff

Learn more about the staff at Downe House.

Leadership Team

5.5 Meet the Staff Emma McKendrick Housemistress downe house school

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.

Michelle Scott Assistant Headmistress (Foundation) meet the team downe house

Mrs Michelle Scott

Deputy Head

Michelle has a long history at Downe House, working as Director of Drama, Director of External Relations and then Assistant Headmistress (Foundation). From September 2020 Michelle took over the role of Deputy Head.

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Mrs Michelle Scott

Deputy Head

Originally from Australia, Michelle began working at Downe House as a Drama teacher before becoming Director of Drama and then Director of External Relations. This means that she understands the ins and outs of everyday school life and the girls see her as a familiar friendly face. Michelle then became Assistant Headmistress responsible for Foundation which is responsible for alumnae relations, school development and fundraising and external relations. One of the key purposes of the Foundation Office is to encourage lifelong connections with our alumnae and their families by providing memorable experiences and opportunities that inspire continued support of Downe House and Michelle has travelled all over the world to ensure that Downe House is building and maintaining connections in the Downe House community.

Michelle is also an experienced academic tutor in the Sixth Form, helping girls make decisions about the higher education and guiding them through a challenging and busy time of their lives.

From September 2020 Michelle took over the role of Deputy Head, assisting the Headmistress in the running of the School.

Genevieve Ford boarding deputy meet the staff downe house

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.”

Mark Hill academic deputy meet the staff downe house

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.

5.5 Meet the Staff Judith Gilpin Jones Head of Lower School

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.

Anna Dourountakis head of upper school meet the staff 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.”

Mel Stimson head of sixth form meet the team downe house

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 director of the murray centre meet the staff downe house

Mrs Philippa Toogood

Assistant Head (Operations)

Philipps 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.

Kate tuttle HR Director meet the staff downe house

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 Alun Jones

Director of the Foundation and International Education Development

In September 2020, Alun joined us as Director of the Foundation and International Education Development to oversee the longlasting development of Downe House as well as alumnae relations and fundraising.

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Mr Alun Jones

Director of the Foundation and International Education Development

Mr Alun Jones is the former Head of Chethams Music School and St Gabriel’s in Newbury, as well as former president of the Girls’ Schools Association and a trained inspector. He joined Downe House as Director of the Foundation and International Educational Development where he works alongside Huw Morgan and Michelle Scott. Alun knows the School well as a parent and through his wife, Judith – our Assistant Head (Lower School).

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.

Colin Cockburn bursar meet the staff downe house

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.

Huw Morgan meet the staff director of business development downe house

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) and AGS Housemistress

Mrs Sofie McClymont is Housemistress of our Upper School House AGS and lives onsite with her husband, Mr David McClymont, Director of Information Systems, and their two daughters. From September 2020, Sofie has taken on the additional role of Director of Boarding (House Management).

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Mrs Sofie McClymont

Director of Boarding (House Management) and AGS Housemistress

Sofie is Housemistress of Ancren Gate South (AGS) and 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. Over six 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 enjoy my role as Housemistress helping and motivating the girls to get the most out of their everyday school life.”

From September 2020, Sofie has taken on the additional role of 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.

5.5 Meet the Staff Claire Williams Hill Housemistress downe house school

Mrs Claire Williams

Hill Housemistress, Teacher of Geography

Claire Williams joined Downe House in 2017 and is Housemistress of Hill House in the Lower School as well as teaching Geography.

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Mrs Claire Williams

Hill Housemistress, Teacher of Geography

Claire Williams is the Housemistress of Hill and teaches Geography. Claire grew up in Shropshire and loves the outdoors, spending as much of the school holidays as possible outside with her husband.

At university, Claire studied Geography and then completed her PGCE. She then taught in Shropshire for seven years, initially as a teacher of Humanities, and then as Head of Years 10 and 11. Claire lives in Hill with her husband Nathan and their dog, Flick. The girls love to walk Flick in the woods when the weather is good! During the holidays Nathan and Claire enjoy hillwalking, rowing and more recently, paddle boarding.

The part of Claire’s role that she really enjoys is helping the girls in the House with all sorts of different aspects of school life, from what to wear at their first social to how to revise for exams. The boarding house is a vibrant place to be and has a lovely atmosphere.

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.”

Mrs Kimberly Masters

Aisholt Housemistress, Teacher of English

After fifteen years of living in Abu Dhabi, Kim joined Downe House as Housemistress of Aisholt, one of the five Upper School Houses.

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Mrs Kimberly Masters

Aisholt Housemistress, Teacher of English

After fifteen years away living in Abu Dhabi, Kimberly moved back to the UK and took the position of Aisholt Housemistress. She lives on site with her family – Hein, her husband who is a prep school Maths teacher, and their two children, Henry and Hannah. After growing up in the desert, Henry and Hannah are curious to be living in an environment that is so naturally green!

Kimberly is a passionate English teacher, however, as her career has progressed, she has forged a rewarding path in pastoral care.

I believe that confidence in oneself, irrespective of the challenges the girls of Aisholt will be faced with, is paramount for success and growth. I look forward to sharing my love of art, sport, games, music, writing, cooking and of course eating with the girls, and see it as my purpose to build lasting relationships with all the girls in my care. I am excited for the years ahead and know that the strength and personality that each individual girl has will continue to allow Aisholt to shine.

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.

5.5 Meet the Staff Barbara Brader Holcombe Housemistress downe house school

Mrs Barbara Brader

Holcombe Housemistress, Teacher of History

We were delighted to welcome Mrs Barbara Brader back to Downe House in 2019 as Housemistress of Holcombe House after teaching History and Politics here for six years until 2014.

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Mrs Barbara Brader

Holcombe Housemistress, Teacher of History

Barbara studied at St Andrew’s University and after completing an MA in English and Scottish History, she went onto Edinburgh University to do her PGCE. Whilst teaching at Downe House, she also supported NQT teachers as a mentor and has a particular interest in facilitating the professional development of teachers. She is also a Senior Examiner for A Level Cambridge International History, and has examined for several different boards over the years.

Barbara taught History and Politics at Downe House as a full-time member of the academic staff for six years before succumbing to the lure of her home in Scotland and returning there in 2014 to become Head of History at Albyn School. Finding that she missed the pastoral care aspect of teaching in the full boarding setting, Barbara was attracted back to Downe House by the possibility of taking on the Housemistress role. Barbara has enjoyed returning with more experience gained in another school and a fresh pair of eyes to enrich her new role. Barbara has also joined the academic staff as a history teacher once more and is currently teaching the Lower Fourth and mentoring a Lower Sixth EPQ student.

Alongside being Housemistress and teacher, Barbara is currently studying for a Masters in Educational Research at Oxford University, with a focus on Teaching and Learning. Her current research is looking at strategies to motivate the most able students, and now that she is back at Downe House, she intends to look at how the new Murray Centre is going to impact on teaching and learning which will be of great interest to all.

5.5 Meet the Staff Sarah Barnard Tedworth Housemistress downe house school

Mrs Sarah Barnard

Tedworth Housemistress, Teacher of History, Overseas University Advisor

Like all our Housemistresses, Sarah Barnard wears many hats – she combines teaching History at both GCSE and A Level with her role advising an increasing number of girls on overseas university applications and of course runs Tedworth House – one of our five Upper School Houses.

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Mrs Sarah Barnard

Tedworth Housemistress, Teacher of History, Overseas University Advisor

The old adage of ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it’ certainly applies to Sarah!

Having studied Modern History at St Andrew’s University, Sarah began her career at St Leonards School in Fife as an Assistant Housemistress and History teacher. Following a stint at St Mary’s in Wantage, Sarah joined Downe House in 2005 as a full-time History teacher and within a few years, she also became the Overseas University Co-ordinator to support the rapidly increasing number of girls looking to study abroad for the next phase of their education. Sarah took on the role of Housemistress of Tedworth in 2014 and currently teaches History to the Lower Fourth, Lower Fifth and Upper Sixth girls.

Sarah said, “I think that it is so good for the girls to see that you have an intellectual curiosity and also work as an academic member of staff. I very much enjoy engaging the girls in discussions about current affairs and run history revision sessions around exam time to help them with their studies. Being a teacher and housemistress gives me an invaluable 360° view of the girls’ lives which helps me to understand and support them so much better, regardless of whether we are talking through their exam results and GCSE options or having a chat about friendship issues.

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!”