Fraser Halliwell, Head of Radnor House tells us about his work and inspirations
What inspired you to teach?
BBC wildlife documentaries and specifically, David Attenborough. Attenborough, like all great teachers, is a master of inspiring curiosity. I thought I wanted to make nature programmes so studied in Bristol, but I switched paths when I realised it was the education, and not the film-making that had engaged me.
Did you have a favourite subject when you were at school?
Not really, just favourite teachers – it’s the singer, not the song. Any teacher could captivate me if they had a passion for their subject and took the time to get to know their pupils.
Tell us about your time in Colombia.
As a biology teacher, I was drawn to the phenomenal biodiversity of the country (second only to Brazil).
I went on a two-year contract and ended up staying for thirteen! It’s a beautiful country and I met many wonderful people during my time there.
How do you think your experience in Colombia influences your work?
Colombia taught me a great deal: to have the courage to take risks because life is not a dress rehearsal; to persevere and face challenges with a growth mindset because there is more in us than we think; and to respect others, whatever their background or nature. These are values we hold dear at Radnor House.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Teachers have the most important job in the world – to expand children’s horizons, encourage them to dream big, and enable them to thrive as active and responsible adults. I am privileged to serve a school community focused on preparing inquisitive young minds for a happy and successful life.
What are the greatest challenges of your role as Head of Radnor House?
The single greatest challenge is convincing young people they are amazing, and the scope of their potential is limitless. Mass media has made life more complicated for our children and it preys on their insecurities. The best defence is to celebrate their uniqueness and help build self-efficacy.
How do you relax outside work?
My greatest passion is the natural world. I have been lucky enough to travel widely, but whether it’s the Amazon rainforest or the South Downs, a good walk in the country does my spirit the world of good.
What is your favourite book?
The Time Rainbow by Lisamarie Lamb was published this year to mark the tricentenary of Combe Bank House – the home of our school near Sevenoaks. It is a wonderful tale in which Radnor pupils travel through time and have adventurous encounters with former illustrious residents of the house.
For more information about Radnor House and its staff visit radnor-sevenoaks.org
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