Q and A: Parliament Hill School headteacher Sarah Creasey
PUBLISHED: 15:10 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:06 03 January 2018
Education editor James Scott speaks to Sarah Creasey about life as headteacher of Parliament Hill School.
What is your background in teaching?
I have had 23 years in secondary education – always in inner London schools. A mixture of mixed and single sex. I started at a single sex school in Wimbledon and then to two mixed schools. I was actually at Hampstead school, before moving out of Camden to Brent where I was head of English at Preston Manor School, where I became assistant headteacher. I was there for about 10 years. I started here in 2012 as deputy head and then because of the arrangements with Acland Burghley I was lucky to have the experience of being associate head for about 15 months during that time. So this felt like a natural next step.
What is the school’s main ethos?
Our motto is that we are high achieving and happy – those two things are really important to us. What we believe is that academic achievement leads to personal achievement and we are about opening doors to every student by making sure they have as many opportunities as possible to flourish academically. But we also know that the girls won’t achieve unless they are happy and safe. We balance both of these things really well and I think that is what makes us distinctive. Another thing people say when they come in is about the positive relationships between students and staff here. Everybody smiles when visitors come in and you see that we are a happy school in action. We are also really diverse and we encourage students to appreciate individuality. We are quite an unusual school in that we don’t have uniform. Girls are allowed to grow here and be who they are. We are committed to academic excellence and not narrowing our school curriculum.
What makes Parliament Hill students unique?
I think it is their individuality. What people often say is that our students are really articulate, confident and know their own minds. They have strong opinions and we are developing them as leaders. We had Year 7 students at open evenings who had only been here for three weeks who were able to stand up and speak to a big group of parents. It’s one of the things that gives me pleasure working here that you have a thought-provoking conversation with the girls throughout the day.
What it is like working in Camden?
It is lovely isn’t it. We are an inner city school, but we are also surrounded by Hampstead Heath. It feels like a peaceful sanctuary and setting where we are surrounded by greenery. I don’t think there are many London schools which are in such a beautiful setting. Culturally it is a really rich place to work and to learn. We have museums, galleries and places like the London School of Economics on our doorstep. We are also benefitting from our partnerships with excellent primary and secondary schools. We are really lucky to have such a brilliant partnership with La Sainte Union, Acland Burghley and William Ellis.
What are you most looking forward to seeing at Parliament Hill in the future?
It’s an exciting time to he head at Parliament Hill. We are about to embark on this huge building programme. It’s a real honour to move the school into its next phase of success. The building really needs this input and this investment. It is a real vote of confidence in the school. We are going to end up with this fabulous new building, much more spacious classrooms and accommodation, specialist labs, a refurbished library and this sports hall which is really important to us as a school that is committed to sport and PE and encouraging girls to be healthy.