Headmistress of Sarum Hall School, Karen Coles, talks of her pride in helping her pupils develop into confident and independent individuals and how hearing giggling in the corridors is a source of delight.

What was your path to becoming a headmistress?

It would be safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my schooling. I went to an all-girls school in Jersey and my dad still jokes that he sent me to Center Parcs, such was my enjoyment of education!

I wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer or an architect, but I continued my love of sport by studying for a BEd (Hons) at Exeter University.  I have taught at Port Regis, Fulham Prep, Cheam, and St Georges Weybridge, as well as a stint at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where I completed the officer commissioning course.

I accepted my first headship here at Sarum Hall School, which has been an incredible privilege. I am driven by my own experiences in education and wish that every child in this country could enjoy their time at school as much as I did.

Why did you want to become a headmistress?

I genuinely believe that girls deserve an exciting educational experience, and the only way to truly influence that is as a Head.  I’m not driven by a desire to run a business, or deal with the finances of a school, my primary ambition is to develop an engaging curriculum and ensure that the children of our school enjoy their learning journey and fulfil their potential.

What’s the most surprising thing about you that people may not know?

I really enjoy ceremonial sword duty! There is something very meditative about the discipline. I also have a life-long love of Care Bears, and an equally long hatred of baked beans. Otherwise I’m a regular person who loves life, what you see is what you get!

What were your favourite and least favourite school dinners?
Having attended and worked in day and boarding schools for nearly forty years I have a lot to say here and it is probably why I can’t and don’t like cooking. At the school I attended, the best was hazelnut yoghurt which, to this day, I really enjoy.

The worst was chicken fricassee, which we renamed something horrible which I shouldn’t repeat here. Let’s just say its nickname rhymed with ‘Fric’ and started with the letter S!

Luckily, things have moved on with school food, and I’m pleased to say the lunch at Sarum Hall School is first rate. We’ve even won awards for our healthy food.

How do you relax outside of school?

The army takes up much of my spare holiday time. I’m with them every holiday and one weekend a month where I provide operational support from an intelligence perspective. I value the continual training and enjoy being part of a strong team.

What are you most proud of at your school?

I love nothing more than hearing giggling in the corridors. It reflects a genuine sense of happiness of the children here. The children continually surprise me with their high levels of ambition for their futures.

Not a day passes without me feeling proud of something, that might be a win at a netball match or a great music performance. But most of all I am proud that when pupils leave us they are confident, think independently and critically, are kind and know how to shape their world.  It is wonderful that we are shaping the leaders of the future.

Address: Sarum Hall School, 15 Eton Avenue, London, NW3 3EL

Telephone: 020 7794 2261

Email: admissions@sarumhallschool.co.uk

Website: www.sarumhallschool.co.uk