Spotlight: Alumni staff at GHS
Over the years, GHS has tapped into the skills and talents of many wonderful alumni for staff roles. Five alumni are currently working on the staff team:
- Sarah Gill (2012) is now a well-established member of the PE Department after qualifying four years ago.
- Felicity Sturge (2010) is teaching Politics and Maths
- Bella Peters (2015) is undergoing her teacher training in the Modern Languages department
- Emma Brown (2017) is helping the PE Department for a year, prior to starting her Graduate Training programme with EY in London next September; as a player in the current England World Cup Training Squad, she has a great deal to offer, helping to coach the school’s lacrosse teams.
- Helena Richardson, who only left GHS in 2021, is also using her gap year as an assistant in the Drama, Textiles and Marketing departments (full story to be included in the next magazine!).
We recently caught up with four of these young teachers to hear more about their GHS experience.
Why did you choose to return to GHS?
Felicity: I contacted the school two years after falling out-of-love with my city job as an insurance broker. I thought “who better to ask than my old school as to how I could make a career change into teaching”. It turned out that the school was looking for a Politics teacher, and a few months later I started my training year as a Maths and Politics teacher. I love teaching Politics as I can spend all day talking about the things I am interested in and I get to work with people I respect and who share my nerdish habits.
Sarah: I was never very enthusiastic about teaching during my university course, but I took a placement year as a Gap Assistant at Lancing and had loads of fun. The following year, Mrs Stone and Mrs Byrne (née Legg) contacted me, to see if I’d like to come back and work with them! Since then, I have carried out my teacher training and taken on more responsibility, both in netball coaching and general PE department admin, so I feel very settled.
Bella: I wanted to use my languages, so I asked GHS if I could observe some lessons to see if teaching might be a good career pathway for me. As it happened, the school needed maternity cover for a Spanish teacher; they asked me to fill the spot and I said yes!
Emma: I’m only teaching for this year, which came about because I had enjoyed helping the PE department previously during my student years; however, it’s certainly a possible option for later in my career. I love being outdoors and staying active, so the coaching role really suits me. As I loved the school myself, I knew I’d enjoy the experience, and working amongst familiar faces helped me settle in quickly. It’s very interesting to see the school from a different perspective.
How do you think the school has changed since you left?
Felicity: It’s amazing how many staff are still here who used to teach me 10 years ago and are now my colleagues! Lessons are very interactive and taught at a much faster pace now. Gone are the days of sitting down to a textbook for an hour and 20 minutes; it’s all about starters, plenaries, pair work and games…the lessons are fun!
Sarah: There’s a bigger focus on well-being nowadays, with lots of activities promoting it such as hot chocolate, bath bombs, ‘Little Farm’, ice cream etc. which the pupils always enjoy.
Bella: I feel the school ethos is essentially the same, but the facilities are better. There’s also a lot more happening on the pastoral side, and the House system is a much bigger deal than I remember.
Emma: I agree with Sarah, there’s a lot more focus on well-being in school. In the PE Department there’s now a Head of Sport Performance, giving pupils access to 1 to 1 support/mentoring, which is pretty cool! I know I would have loved that.
Which member of staff made a particular impact on you and why?
Felicity: Miss Fiona Mackay and Mr George Hogg were such wonderful and kind teachers to me at school. Although they have both retired, they come back annually to direct the school drama production.
Sarah: Mrs Liz Mulgrew was the most patient person ever, particularly with our terrible maths set!
Bella: Señor James was my favourite teacher (sorry Spanish department!). He’s an incredible linguist and very inspiring. He genuinely cares about his students and creates a warm, supportive relationship with them. I am very grateful that he led me to apply for languages at university.
Emma: The sports teachers always had such an impact on me!
What have you learnt most from being at GHS, either as a pupil or member of staff?
Felicity: Camaraderie – the girls stick together, as do the staff. When I had to self-isolate with COVID, everyone was so kind by offering to bring me food parcels and checking I was okay.
Sarah: The way the pupils are encouraged to behave is often noticed and commented on by external staff and officials, which as a teacher is very rewarding. Pupils develop positive values and become well-rounded people.
Bella: The most important lesson I learned is to be confident in myself, able to express my opinions and feeling comfortable in my own skin.
Do you have a favourite memory?
Felicity: David Cleaver’s retirement party in the House of Commons last year was a fantastic event. There was a huge turnout by alumni, and the warmth directed towards David and each other was quite moving.
Sarah: It was particularly exciting to be a member of the first GHS team to qualify for the National Schools Netball Finals.
Bella: Winning the 2nd Lacrosse Championships and being given our champagne moment in assembly (drinking from the trophy on stage) was a real highlight!
Emma: The trips we did, particularly our Lower Sixth expedition to Peru, and both sports tours to South Africa (netball) and USA (lacrosse).