We welcomed our new Headmaster Christopher Drew to Akeley, just over one month ago. This week we caught up with him to find out about his first impressions of the school, and his priorities for the coming months and years.

 

Q What are your first impressions of Akeley Wood?

Akeley Wood School is a wonderful school. It provides a good quality education to its students, it meets the needs of the parents in terms of what they’re looking for from a school such as this, and it is a good place for staff to work. My job is to celebrate the school’s many strengths, and to reinforce them, but also to work quickly on the areas for improvement to get the school as good as it can be, as quickly as possible.

 

Q Tell us more about those strengths.

There’s a very strong community feel at Akeley Wood – it feels like a supportive family and people do generally look out for each other and help each other and want the best for one another. That is great and you don’t get that in every school. Secondly I would say that the students typically work well together to make the school as strong as they want it to be. They’re not seeking to spoil the school or to work against the school.  On the contrary, the students want Akeley to be great and they play a very large part in that. Equally, we are privileged to have a skilled and experienced staff team, in all areas of staffing – teaching, support staff, administration and the senior leadership team.

Time and again parents sing the praises of the high quality of pastoral care at this school, and that’s something that is very good to hear. We want to build on that and make it even better, so from September, we will be focusing much more on the development of character in our young people, equipping them with all those necessary attributes, qualities and skills to go on and be decent citizens, because I don’t believe a school is just about academic results – I believe it’s about people being good husbands and wives, good partners, good parents, good employers and employees, good neighbours and good friends. We also have a responsibility as global citizens. I think that is what society needs, more than simply a piece of paper with a string of A* grades on it. Academic grades are very important, of course, but more important to me is the development of character.

 

Q What are your immediate priorities?

I have two main immediate areas of focus.

Firstly, to ensure a sense of stability and calm to the school so everybody knows who the leader is, what the leader stands for and to work with the leader and the whole staff team to improve the school where it needs to be improved.

Secondly, we want to streamline communications with parents so that it gives them what they want when they need it, in an easy to read and easy to understand format, so we feel sure there will be some changes for the better going on there.

Q What are your thoughts on the unique aspect of Akeley Wood School being set across three sites?

What a privilege it is for students and for staff to work on three wonderful campuses. Whether it’s the buildings, the grounds or the general feel of each of those campuses, it’s so positive to be part of it. I, for one, would have given my eye teeth to come to a school such as this when I was a lad!

There are, of course, challenges in terms of conflicting diaries and for the staff that travel between sites. The senior site and AW6 in particular to ensure the timetable allows travel time. I do actually think that shape of the day, that’s been tweaked, is about right, allowing a five-minute buffer between lessons. Perhaps we need a cable car! They’re the only two main issues – both logistical.

Q What are your general views on the education sector?

I’ve worked in all three sectors. I worked in the independent sector first, then I worked in the Academies Programme – which are state funded but independent schools. Academies had great freedoms when they first started in 2003, huge freedoms over recruitment, curriculum models, specialisms etc, you could literally do what you wanted within the bounds of reasonableness. Sadly, those freedoms have now been largely clawed away. And then latterly I’ve worked in the state sector, in a Local Authority school and then in a trust of schools.

My view is that it doesn’t matter what type of school children are at, it just matters that within each context, those children get the very best opportunities to flourish and succeed.

The word that staff hear will be hearing a lot from me is “flourishing”. I want Akeley Wood School to flourish. I don’t simply want it to be or to exist, I want it to flourish. So I want teaching and learning in the classroom to flourish and for that to be a joyful experience for students and staff. I want the sports fixture programme to flourish, I want the enhanced-curricular (EC) programme to flourish, I want the Duke of Edinburgh Award to flourish, and so on. Trips, visits, expeditions, and so much more – so that children have a really rich immersive experience in all aspects of life here at Akeley to prepare them well for their next steps, for going off to university or other options and beyond. So the word “flourish” will be on my lips a lot!

Floreat Akeley!

Junior School Contact Numbers

General number
01908 571231
Admission number
01908 555803

Senior School Contact Numbers

General number
01280 860182
Admission number
01280 828122

Senior & Sixth Form Contact Numbers

General number
01280 814110
Admission number
01280 828122