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Head teacher at Hampstead girls school announces resignation

PUBLISHED: 12:04 11 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:19 11 December 2015

Helen Pike, headteacher of South Hampstead High School. Picture: Polly Hancock

Helen Pike, headteacher of South Hampstead High School. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The headmistress of a leading independent girls school in Hampstead has announced she is to leave after just three years in the job.

Actress and former pupil Helena Bonham Carter with headteacher Helen Pike. Picture: Polly Hancock Actress and former pupil Helena Bonham Carter with headteacher Helen Pike. Picture: Polly Hancock

Helen Pike wrote to parents yesterday to inform them she will leave South Hampstead High School at the end of this school year in August 2016.

She is to take up a post as master of Magdalen College School, in Oxford, to spend more time with her family who live in the city.

The Oxford-educated headteacher, 43, who has three step-children, explained: “I did not return in September with the intention of applying for a new role. As some of you may know, my family live in Oxford but we have never yet been able to live together because of my work commitments.

“I am aware that ‘spending more time with my family’ has become a well-worn euphemism, and I should like to reassure you that in my case it is not and that I shall always remember my time at South Hampstead with great affection.”

South Hampstead High School's new building South Hampstead High School's new building

Miss Pike was thrown headfirst into a two-year £30million building project when she joined the school, in Maresfield Gardens, in September 2013.

Her appointment at the Girls Day School Trust (GDST) school came after the mysterious early departure of her predecessor Jenny Stephen, who failed to return to the school after the 2013 Easter holidays, leaving a term earlier than planned for “professional reasons.”

Miss Pike’s time at the school have seen her open the new £30m glass-fronted modern building in Maresfield Gardens in January at a ceremony attended by old girl actress Helena Bonham Carter.

The headteacher was also named one of the top 10 heads to watch by the national Good Schools Guide.

Her role at South Hampstead was Miss Pike’s first headship, having taught history at City of London School for Boys, St Paul’s School, Barnes, and the Royal Grammar School, in Guildford.

In her letter to parents yesterday, Miss Pike said: “The search for the next Head will begin soon; I have no doubt that the GDST and the School Governing Board will find someone who will be worthy of your continued support and trust. I know that I value

both these greatly, and there will be many opportunities in the coming months for me to thank you and your daughters for making my time at SHHS such a joy.

“ I am very proud of all that the school is, and of all that we will have achieved together in three years. “

Miss Pike, whose last day will be A-level results day on August 19 next year, told the Ham&High how difficult it was to make the announcement yesterday.

“I have so many happy memories at the school and the best thing about it is the girls. I also adore my staff so it was very hard to tell them yesterday. We have done so much together during the time. All I can hope is that I leave the school in better shape than I found it in. I’m sure they will find somebody absolutely cracking to replace me because this is a plum job. I said to the girls yesterday that I will treasure every day I still have here. I love this place so much.”

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