What’s your earliest memory from the classroom?

My earliest memories are probably from primary school in London, where there was not much space and we had very old teachers. I also remember much of the work involved rote-learning things, like times tables and facts about one thing or another. There was certainly not much encouragement for exploring ideas, creative thinking and risk-taking, something I think makes such a difference for children today!

Which aspects of school life do you look back upon fondly?

I remember my school years as a time when I made some lifelong friends with whom I’m still in contact today. We spent so much time together in and out of school we were really like brothers and sisters. I was lucky to have some fantastic teachers who made the learning fun and also inspired us as pupils to take the opportunities we had been given.

Did you have a favourite teacher?

My favourite teacher when I was younger was Mr Whybrow who taught me PE and was also one of my rowing coaches. He called us all ‘men’ which made us feel terribly grown up! I think the biggest lesson he taught us was to believe in ourselves, that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it. He is now a prep school headmaster in Cheltenham so I see him quite regularly, but it is quite strange thirty years on not to be calling him ‘Sir’!

What was your favourite lesson?

My favourite lesson was Geography, which I went on to study at degree level.

Is there anything you wish you’d studied at secondary school?

I wish I had studied critical thinking, which wasn’t available at the time but has such potential to open up other aspects of school study. It also really challenges you to think more broadly about topics, which in society today is more important than ever, as we tend to refer to ‹Google› for answers as a starting point rather than thinking for ourselves first.

How has your own experience of school sculpted you into the head teacher you are today?

I think it has helped me appreciate that when opportunities come along, you should be prepared to take them. I was extremely busy at school as in addition to my normal school day, I rowed internationally which took up huge amounts of time before and after school as well as at the weekends. That has proved to be the ideal preparation for headship, as there rarely seems to be a spare minute!

Vinehall School is a co-educational independent day and boarding prep school in Sussex. 01580 880413 www.vinehallschool.com.

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