We place great emphasis on staff development, CPD and providing opportunities for the advancement of staff where possible. It is a great pleasure for us, therefore, to announce the appointment to new roles for Kirsten Mortimer, who will be heading up a new Creative Arts Faculty, and for Katie Lauder, who succeeds Lydia Rayne as Director of Sport who is taking a step back from leading the department after 25 years at Downe (although we are pleased to say that Lydia will be staying on to teach and coach our young sportswomen).
You can find out more about Kirsten and Katie, and their new roles, below and we the whole School community wishes them every success as they take up their new roles from September 2022.
I love enabling and witnessing students discover and develop their creativity. Art allows a person to express themselves, explore ideas and develop responses that are unique to them, which is such a special thing.
This is an exciting time for our creative arts departments and now, more than ever before, the creative possibilities truly are endless for our pupils. Over recent years there have been significant changes within the creative curriculum, most notably the transition of Textiles from being a Technology course to a Fine Art subject and likewise Design Technology – which is now 3D Design. These changes give us the opportunity for greater cross-department collaboration and have led to the creation of a Creative Arts Faculty that will include, from September 2022, Art, History of Art, Photography, Textiles and 3D Design – led by Kirsten Mortimer as Director of Creative Arts.
An accomplished artist, Kirsten has a wealth of expertise and creative interests to bring to her new role, along with 20 years’ experience in our Art Department; “the students and staff at Downe are second-to-none, and I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by such supportive, aspirational and talented individuals.”
Kirsten knew from a very early age that she would follow a creative path and throughout her formative years her mother, who was an artist, helped and encouraged her. After A Levels, she completed a Foundation Diploma at Plymouth College of Art and Design, followed by a Degree in Fine Art (specialising in painting) at Brighton University, where she arranged to study at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux for six months, which she cites as “an incredible experience”.
After graduating, and some time spent at a theatre productions workshop, painting scenery and making props for shows in the West End and travelling performances, Kirsten completed her PGCE and moved into teaching Art. Later, whilst teaching, she was inspired to study an MA in printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts; she enjoyed experimenting with a broad range of techniques, and developed an interest in combining print and mixed media to generate one-off compositions.
I advise students to see Art in the flesh; there is no comparison to seeing it online or in a publication, you need to feel and experience art with your own eyes. I also encourage them to keep an independent sketch book; this shows us who they are and by going the extra mile, they will reap the benefits when it comes to their grades.
-Mrs Kirsten Mortimer, Director of Creative Arts
I want every pupil at Downe to have a positive sporting experience during their time at School to set them up for a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity. I aim to give every pupil the chance to find a sport they can enjoy.
Spearheading the Sport Department from September 2022, Katie Lauder is already a familiar face and inspirational presence at Downe House. Katie joined Downe in 2015 as a Newly Qualified Teacher, and her outstanding expertise and dedication to the department and the School community, saw her quickly rise through the ranks to Assistant Director of Sport (Performance), where she oversaw the development of our Sports Scholars programme alongside teaching. Katie will now lead the department as Director of Sport whilist will also retaining her pastoral links with the pupils , providing tutor support to girls in the Upper School.
Katie has always had a keen interest in sport, playing many sports as a child including rugby, netball, rounders, lacrosse and squash. It was in Sixth Form that she focussed on squash and went on to acheive great successs, playing for her university, county, region and country, and being ranked No 1 in Great Britain.
As well as enjoying sporting success, Katie’s experience as an elite sportswoman has given her a very broad outlook on sport and she has learnt much about balancing education, wellbeing, training, competing and a social life.
Prior to her career at Downe House, Katie worked at Felsted School, in the PE department and Sixth Form boarding house. Within her new role as Director of Sport, Katie is excited to be working with her outstanding department colleagues, enthusiastic pupils and parents to provide a modern and fulfilling sports programme for all ages and abilities within the School.
As a strong advocate for women and girls, Katie believes there is still much more to do tackle inequalities in sport and the wider world. Downe House gives all pupils the platform to go out into the world and spark change; as Director of Sport, Katie is looking forward to empowering our girls to do just that.
I really enjoy nurturing students and helping them to develop as individuals and find their own path, passions and personalities. I love it when you see things ‘click’ in a pupil’s mind and witnessing their enjoyment and the improvement they can make over time.
–Mrs Katie Lauder, Director of Sport
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