July 29 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Her portable office is a world away from the luxurious inner sanctums normally inhabited by headteachers of Hampstead’s most exclusive schools.
But for Helen Pike, who has nearly completed her first year in charge of all-girls South Hampstead High School, the prospect of moving into sparkling new premises in Maresfield Gardens in October only makes her more determined to continue raising standards.
“A new building does not a good school make,” says Miss Pike, 41. “I’m already saying to the girls that it will take a little bit of time to settle in. But there’s no doubt it will make a big difference.
“We want to take the school into the wider world and bring the world into the school.
“We have been a little bit constrained by space this year but once we’ve moved back into the new school we will be throwing open the doors.”
It has been a challenging first year for the Oxford-educated headteacher, who was thrown headfirst into the school’s two-year £35million building project.
But her commitment to maintaining performance levels while housed in temporary classrooms on the site of Hampstead Cricket Club, in Lymington Road, West Hampstead, has paid dividends.
Miss Pike, who lives in Harrow-on-the-Hill, was recently named one of the top 10 heads to watch alongside Highgate School’s Adam Pettit by the national Good Schools Guide.
The role is Miss Pike’s first headship, having taught history at City of London School for Boys, in the City; St Paul’s School, Barnes, and the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.
Her first part-time teaching post at Westminster School was the first time the self-titled “girl done good” from Preston had ever set foot in an independent school.
In the short time she has led the school, Miss Pike, who has three step-children, has recruited 10 teachers, but she has been quick to reassure parents that she has not been firing members of staff.
“I invest a lot in teaching because that is really the most important thing we do,” she said. “It’s just extra resources, or replacing people who are leaving for promotions or travelling.
“Two of my Year 11s applied for the head of geography job and they really gave the winning candidate a run for their money! They were great and it was very entertaining.”