Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 24

31 March 2023

Dear Parents,

What a marvellous ‘Greek Myths’ performance from Year 4 this week.  It was so clear how much those boys loved putting on that show and each ‘Myth’ played out with great enthusiasm, word-perfect timing and incredibly creative dramatic and musical direction. After each of these performances I tell Mrs Voneshen, Ms Oosthuizen and Miss Livermore how brilliantly the boys did and they always say that the boys were the best they have been, and that they have clearly fed off the atmosphere and audience in the room.  So thank you to all those brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents that filled the Spinney on Wednesday and Thursday night and played their own part in the success of the show. I have to admit, I didn’t really know what to expect and where this had come from as I hadn’t seen or heard mention of any rehearsals, and I’ve been into quite a few Year 4 classes these past few weeks and it’s just been normal lessons.  But that’s the beauty of The Beacon curriculum and staffing resource – the dedicated Drama and Music lessons and subject specific staff driving the production, allows for such a professional and committed performance, with no pressure or compromise on our normal academic curriculum – well done, everyone.

As with all schools, that staffing resource allows for a little change with a few comings and goings for September. With the previously announced Mr Stephen Miles moving to Deputy Head Pastoral, we have been delighted to appoint Mrs Hannah Macdonald to the Head of Middle School position.  Hannah is known to many of you as a much valued member of our Common Room and her experience and knowledge of the Year 5 and 6 curriculum as well as leading on our partner school arrangements for the 11+ grammar school selection make her ideally positioned to progress this role in the coming years.  Additionally we have appointed Miss Charlotte Bassett to a Key Stage 2 teaching role. Currently the Maths coordinator at Little Kingshill School, former Chesham Grammar pupil Charlotte impressed us with her calm, purposeful teaching ability and clear compassion and enthusiasm for the teaching of boys. I have no doubt she will prove to be a huge asset to our middle years team here.

In the Lower School, I am extremely proud (but also a little sad) that Mrs Ghazala Kaler has been appointed as Director of Studies at Buckingham Prep School in Pinner from September.  Ghazala has been a highly effective teacher and much loved colleague at The Beacon for the past nine years and though I’ve only been here a short time, I have so enjoyed getting to know her and engage with her unique sense of humour.  We will miss her greatly but it is testament to the strength of our Common Room that colleagues go on to management positions in other Prep schools.  Also leaving us at the end of this year, albeit only temporarily, will be Head of Maths, Ms Olivia Kearns, as she is expecting a baby this summer.  Tremendously exciting news for Olivia and her husband and, typical for a mathematician, timed exactly so she can complete the academic school year – very clever!  Mr Martin Langley will be Head of Maths in her absence and we have no doubt that he will keep standards high with his typical enthusiasm, expert teaching, people management skills and tremendous sense of fun with the boys.  To cover Olivia’s teaching, we have been very fortunate to hire Mrs Clare Elliott, currently Deputy Head at Whitgift Prep School. Clare is a highly experienced Maths teacher and Prep school educationalist who is moving back to the area and is as pleased to have found a position at The Beacon as we are to hire her.  Sometimes things are just meant to happen with recruitment, and this feels like one such appointment.

The best schools are the ones that educate everybody, all of the time, and with that in mind we are immensely proud to appoint our current SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) trainee, Miss Stephanie Beale, to a full time post in the Pre-Prep from September.  Stephanie comes from a family of expert educators and it is no surprise that she has been one of the most outstanding trainees we have had in recent years.  We are full in Nursery and Reception for September for 2023 (and 2024) and as such will revert back to our traditional three classes in Reception.  The additional Reception Class will be taught by Mrs Mach Scott, who has made such a strong impression on our community, teaching as part of a job share in Year 2 currently.  Mach has an affinity with our youngest year groups and will do a superb job utilizing the spare classroom for her Reception class at the end of our Winterbourn building.

In Admissions, we have appointed Mrs Marie Lovett to run this area of the school from September.  Marie, currently Head of Admissions at Kensington Park School in London, will bring extensive knowledge and expertise to the role and progress the excellent work of Pippa Pearson before her.  Living locally and with her two young sons at school and nursery in Amersham, she will, as I have, much appreciate working closer to home and embracing life at our School.

Exciting external appointments, deserved promotions, development of our own people, The Beacon will continue to be an enormously fulfilling and enjoyable place to work. We all look forward to working with you and our brilliant Beacon boys in the years to come.

Have a great Easter,

Nick Baker


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