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Q and A: St Anthony’s School for Girls headteacher on her first year at helm

PUBLISHED: 11:36 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:46 20 March 2017

St Anthony's School for Girls headteacher Laura Martin with a group of her students. Credit: Jonathan Stewart

St Anthony's School for Girls headteacher Laura Martin with a group of her students. Credit: Jonathan Stewart

Red Photographic-Jonathan Stewart

We spoke to St Anthony’s School for Girls headteacher Laura Martin about her first year at the helm.

Laura MartinLaura Martin

Please can you go into your background in teaching prior to starting at St Anthony’s?

Having completed a BA Ed in primary education with the University of Reading, I began my teaching career in a Catholic primary school in Hertfordshire. Prior to opening St Anthony’s School for Girls, I was a founding member of Holy Family, a new Catholic primary school in the borough of Ealing. Together with my team, I organised, resourced and designed the curriculum for the opening of each class and nurtured the caring, family ethos within a growing school environment. As the assistant head, I was an integral part of the team which led Holy Family to achieve the “outstanding” grade in their first Ofsted Inspection. I have now embarked on a new challenge and aim to apply the experience and skills gained in my previous role to the successful running of St Anthony’s School for Girls.

What attracted you to the job?

St Anthony's School for Girls headteacher Laura Martin, Alpha Plus executive deputy chairman Graham Able and founding parent Ebru Nart.St Anthony's School for Girls headteacher Laura Martin, Alpha Plus executive deputy chairman Graham Able and founding parent Ebru Nart.

The challenge of starting a new school was an incredibly rewarding experience, and so when the opportunity arose to open St Anthony’s School for Girls, I was delighted to be offered the position. What appealed to me most was the opportunity to create from its foundation, a learning environment where all pupils could thrive and reach their full potential. As a school leader, I am blessed with the task of creating our future traditions and aim to achieve this using exciting and innovative approaches to teaching. Prior to taking the position, I visited St Anthony’s Boys and met with headmaster, Paul Keyte. It was clear that we shared the same values and principles in our approach to education and so would go on to make a successful team. I also admired the success of the Alpha Plus Group schools and was attracted to the opportunity of working within a group which would offer the support network of successful and forward-thinking headteachers.

What makes St Anthony’s unique as a school?

As a start-up school, we are unique in that we are not governed by traditions or principles which could have potentially become outdated. The opening of a new school provides us with a blank canvas. We have the opportunity to create an educational setting tailored to the needs of a diverse and ever changing environment. St Anthony’s girls benefit from traditional teaching methods while drawing upon the latest advances in technology and the latest research and innovation in education. Through working closely with the boys’ school, we are also able to give our pupils the opportunities that a co-educational school would provide while maintaining the benefits that singlesex education has to offer. Paul and I meet frequently to ensure that our shared ethos is maintained and academic success of the two schools is on par.

What are your main aims as headteacher?

St Anthony’s School for Boys is known as being both academic and caring. My Headteacher Laura Martin surrounded by a crop of her pupils. Spring Term 2017 37 Interview aim is to nurture this ethos in the girl’s school throughout our period of growth. My approach to education is that first and foremost, the girls should enjoy learning. I want the girls to skip into school every day excited to make new discoveries, to gain knowledge and practise skills. It is our duty to ensure that during their time with us, the girls are prepared for the next stage in their school career. And so we promote independence and encourage our girls to take ownership of their learning. We want our girls to see themselves as individuals, with unique strengths and ambitions and that stems from how we ourselves view the girls, and the education with which we provide them. As our pupil numbers grow, my aim is that our pastoral care will continue to be equal to our excellent academic offering. By attending St Anthony’s, our girls will receive an education which develops the human being as a whole.

What has been your proudest moment during the school’s first year?

There have been many proud moments and successes during our first year but the most memorable for me was seeing the very first St Anthony’s girl cross the school gates proudly wearing her new school uniform. The girls themselves have made the opening of this school a joy. They fully appreciate the importance and responsibility of being a founding member and know that their actions and achievements will go on to set the St Anthony’s Girls traditions. It gives me such pleasure to watch them grow and flourish as the role models to our future year groups.

What are you most excited about this term?

We are incredibly excited about STEM week, which will take place in March. During this week all learning will be focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through cross-curricular projects, the girls will take part in robotics sessions which will draw on their construction and programming skills. There will be investigations to spark a curiosity in chemistry and mathematical problem solving which will encourage them to pose as many questions as they have answered.

What do you like most about working in Camden?

The situation of the school between Hampstead and Golders Green enables me make the most of bustling north London life while enjoying the glorious greenery and outdoor space provided by Golders Hill park.

What is the school’s ethos?

Our ethos underpins every aspect of school life at St Anthony’s School for Girls. As with our sister school, St Anthony’s School for Boys, it is our nurturing family environment and high quality education which makes us exceptional. We believe that children reach their true potential when they feel safe, secure and valued as part of a supportive community. We recognise that each child is an individual, with unique strengths and abilities. Through our guidance, it is the St Anthony’s School for Girls aim that our pupils will flourish academically and go on to affect change, making a positive contribution to society through their academic abilities and moral and spiritual beliefs. Through living out our aims and ethos, we hope to foster in each child a passion to learn, the motivation to achieve and the desire to excel.

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