Providing the very best education for our children is what the leadership team at WPNY is committed to delivering. It has been a privilege to undertake research and conduct interviews for this article as it has provided an opportunity to spend time with the exceptional people who lead WPNY, as well as those who lead the wider organisation behind our school, the Alpha Plus Group. Mr Graham Able (Deputy Chairman, Alpha Plus Group), Ms Jenny Stephen (Director of Schools, Alpha Plus Group), Miss Kate Bailey (Head of School) and Mrs Alice Charteris (Deputy Head of School) have very generously given of their time to provide an insight into what lies at the core of the education our children experience every day. Additionally, Miss Bailey and Mrs Charteris have shared information about their backgrounds and respective journeys to where we see them today so that we may get to better know the people who lead our school.
The Alpha Plus Group
The Alpha Plus Group is one of the largest private school providers in the UK. WPNY is unique in that it is the first school in the Group to open outside of the UK. Currently, the Alpha Plus Group is the provider of 20 schools and colleges.
The Alpha Plus Governance Structure
As illustrated, behind WPNY is this enormously strong and robust structure. Whereas many private schools operate alone, WPNY does not. It benefits from the extensive expertise and shared knowledge offered by being part of the Alpha Plus Group.
The Alpha Plus Group’s origins date all the way back to 1931 with the foundation of DLD College ‘to provide tuition for the entrance examinations to Oxford and Cambridge universities and to the British Civil Service’. The Alpha Plus brand was created in 2002 from the acquisition of the group of schools and colleges owned by DLD, by Sovereign Capital. Delancey (a London-based property investment, development and asset management advisory firm) acquired the group in 2007, from Sovereign Capital, and expanded it through organic growth. Since 2007, pupil numbers have increased by 40%, 11 schools have been opened and academic results have gone from strength to strength.
“Our success largely lies in our ability, as a Group, to appoint and retain top quality school leaders, committed teachers and dedicated support staff.” The Alpha Plus Group
Mr Graham Able, Deputy Chairman, Alpha Plus Group
Mr Graham Able is an outstanding leader of the highest cailbre. He has been Deputy Chairman of the Alpha Plus Group since 2014 and prior to that, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Group for 5 years from 2009 until 2014. Before joining Alpha Plus, he spent 40 years teaching in independent schools, the last 21 as a Headmaster in London. He retired from the extremely prestigious position of the Mastership of Dulwich College in August 2009. He hadn’t intended on taking another full-time position, however, Sir John Ritblat (Chair of Alpha Plus Group), a longtime friend and colleague, asked him to come on board as the Chief Executive Officer. Mr Able agreed he’d take on the role for a year. In doing so, he found he enjoyed it so much, he ended up being the CEO for 5 years! However, when his son’s family moved to New Zealand in 2014, Mr Able made the decision to work in a part time capacity so that he would be able to spend some time each year with his family overseas. This is when he took on his current role as Deputy Chairman, alongside Sir John.
Sir John Ritblat has an immeasurable wealth of experience and achievements. He is a philanthropist with a keen interest in education, young people and the arts. There is so much to write in relation to the work he has done and the positions he has held that it’s impossible to cover everything here. Highlights include, Chairman of the Board of Governors of London Business School until April 2014, after 25 years. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Wallace Collection Foundation and an Honorary Trustee of the Royal Academy of Music. He is Vice President of International Students’ House, and an Honorary Fellow and Vice President of the Council of the Royal Institution. Sir John sat on the Board of the British Library 1995 – 2003 and was reappointed in 2015. He is the sponsor of The Sir John Ritblat Gallery, Treasures of The British Library. He was a school governor of Dulwich College where he remains as a Special Advisor to the Governors and a founding member of the College’s Development Strategy Committee. So, Sir John and Mr Able worked together at Dulwich College.
When Mr Able became Deputy Chairman in 2014, Mark Hanley-Browne was appointed CEO. Mr Hanley-Browne has also had a very distinguished career. He graduated with a degree in Natural Sciences from Oxford University before going to Cambridge University to study for his PGCE. He taught at Sevenoaks School in Kent, Charterhouse School in Surrey and Highgate School in North London before becoming Head of Emanuel School in South London. He held this post for 13 years, leading the school through a period of very successful development and making it one of the most popular schools in the capital. When Mr Hanley-Browne first became a Head, Mr Able was his mentor. Therefore, there is a closeness and ease of relations between the Chair, Deputy Chair and CEO of Alpha Plus.
In talking with Mr Able, the benefits of attending a school that belongs to the Alpha Plus Group become immediately apparent. His passion for the Group, and each school and college within it, shines through. He has a deep commitment to providing the best education possible, for every child.
“The best schools understand they must teach to the individual child and this is at the heart of the Alpha Plus Group’s ethos.” Graham Able
Every school within the Group meets the essential components of excellence in education through the Alpha Plus Gold Standard.
The Alpha Plus Gold Standard of Education includes:
- High aspirations and expectations for all pupils and staff
- Outstanding leadership at all levels
- Working closely in partnership with parents
- A focus on high quality teaching and learning
- A commitment to self-review and continuous improvement
Mr Able highlighted that one of the essential differences of this Group to other education providers, whether they be privately owned, or charities, etc, is that there is an entirely professional governing body. All those serving on it are full-time employees, with the exception of himself and Sir John. They are able to provide all of the required non-executive support and advice to the schools, encompassing finance, property, education (at all the various levels), as well as corporate knowledge. This all professional governance team works with each Head accordingly and each school is visited once every term. Ms Jenny Stephen, Director of Schools, and Ms Liz Francis, Director of Education at Alpha Plus, share the leadership of the governance visits. Each term, different areas are reviewed as follows:Mr Able has attended every governance visit since WPNY opened its doors in 2017. WPNY also has an Advisory Board in addition to the Alpha Plus Governance structure which is unique to this school. This is because it is the Group’s first international venture and the Advisory Board’s role is to provide the necessary local support and supervision. Mr Able sits on this board too, along with Sir John and three others, so he really is able to provide continuity to the different groups who oversee, support and advise WPNY.
As well as the governance and advisory visits, Mr Able explained that he regularly speaks with Miss Bailey on the phone, around 3 times a term and that Ms Stephen speaks with Miss Bailey at least once every fortnight. There is very regular contact with the leadership team in London.
“The tone is set from the top and everyone feels Mr Able’s presence here. His values filter down through the whole organisation. He constantly challenges how we do things and, even if something is being done well, he says ‘we can always get better!’” Kate Bailey
The Alpha Plus Gold Standard unifies the exceptional operations of all the schools. However, each Head of School creates its individual identity. Mr Able is very proud that every school is unique yet unified. There is no one size fits all. Each school is different according to who is leading it and where the school is located. The ethos behind the Gold Standard is one of continuous improvement. Each school must consistently ask themselves how good they are and be able to provide evidence to support what they are saying. Mr Able said it is never acceptable to sit back and be in anyway complacent; there must be continuous self-challenging and improvement.
He expressed how important Continuous Professional Development is and explained how the teaching staff are regularly surveyed, anonymously, and what has been ascertained is that they value professional development opportunities above a marginal pay rise. The Alpha Plus Group know that if they offer ongoing top quality training, they will attract the most talented and most ambitious teachers.
Funding and Growth
The Group’s objective is long term gains as opposed to short term profit. The Group may not make a profit in a given year because it has made the decision to invest in a school, such as WPNY and there is an expectation that a school such as WPNY will not break even for three years. The DV4 fund which acquired the Group in 2007 is an evergreen fund, meaning that it is continuous. It differs from other private equity funds which usually turn over every five years.
“Unlike most privately owned education providers, the wish of Alpha Plus’ shareholders is that that all profits made by the Group are retained and reinvested in its existing schools and in opening new schools.” Graham Able
The benefit of an evergreen fund is that investors are interested in growing funds over time and are not interested in short term dividends. This allows the Group to be expansive and take the time to make the right decisions about strategic direction. Mr Able explained that the growth has to be in the right way i.e. it would never grow in a way that was beyond the capabilities of the governance team. The Group always grows in an evolutionary and organic way as opposed to making a sudden jump. He emphasised that they would never open two new schools simultaneously as this would not provide for enough focus and resources on each. They would only open one school at a time.
So much thought was put into expanding internationally and opening WPNY in New York. Mr Able said there is a family of schools in London which are very closely connected with WPNY. Those are Wetherby School / Prep / Senior (all boys) and Pembridge Hall (all girls), from which Wetherby-Pembridge gets its name. Also, Wetherby Kensington, which has opened to satisfy demand. Chepstow House comes under the same family umbrella, opening its doors in January 2010.
“In 20 years time, WPNY will reflect the unique values and identity that Miss Bailey has brought to it. It’s crucial to appoint the right person.” Graham Able
Miss Bailey was Deputy Head at Wetherby Prep in London prior to moving out to New York so was a part of the community there and has strong relationships with her London colleagues, whom she worked with whilst there.
Mr Able emphasised that education is a three-way partnership between the parents, the children and the school and that if all are working together well, then a good and positive outcome is achieved for the child. However, if this triangular relationship is off balance in any regard, this is when things may not work as well as they could. That is why working in partnership with parents is considered so integral to the success of each child’s education at an Alpha Plus school.
“Academic qualifications at the end of your school life will get you a good place at university, if you want it. However, it’s the other things you learn at school that lead to all round success in life.” Graham Able
Mr Able explained the other things he refers to as:
- Interpersonal skills – dealing with others successfully and the ability to empathise
- Making decisions having listened and thought things through
- Putting forward an argument calmly without losing your cool and remaining in control
- Working successfully as a member of a team – these skills are often learnt through sport, drama and music
Educating the whole child is recognised by Mr Able as paramount to providing the tools for future success. A holistic approach to education is at the core of Alpha Plus’s ethos.
Flexibility is the Key!
According to Mr Able, helping children to learn how to be flexible and to adapt quickly and easily to what is demanded of them is a vitally important skill. He explained that by the time current pupils are 30 years old, they will be involved in careers that aren’t even invented yet. So, in addition to academic aptitude, flexibility and adaptability are key skills to master, as well as the ability to work well and successfully with others.
Ms Jenny Stephen, Director of Schools, Alpha Plus Group
Prior to joining Alpha Plus, Ms Stephen held Headships in four different independent schools spanning 22 years. Her most recent Headship was at South Hamsptead High School in London, during which time, her husband was High Master at St Paul’s Boys’ School. Ms Stephen explained that her and her husband’s schools shared many siblings; the sister(s) attending South Hampstead and the brother(s) attending St Pauls. Ms Stephen then oversaw the successful start-up of a school in Dubai, which broadened her portfolio of experience in an international context. She retains a great passion for music, having previously served as a board member for both an orchestra and a specialist music school. She supports the well-being programmes in the schools explaining “if a child can do advanced maths, speak three languages and achieve top grades but can’t manage their emotions, practice conflict resolution or handle stress, none of that other stuff is really going to matter.” A scientist, she is married with three grown up sons and retains a deep interest in sport, dating from her time as a County runner. Another passion is restoring derelict houses.
Ms Stephen joined Alpha Plus in 2016, bringing this huge wealth of experience to her role as Director of Schools. Based in the same office in London, she works very closely with Ms Liz Francis, Director of Education. Ms Stephen and Ms Francis share the leadership of all governance visits to each school, with the exception of WPNY. As explained earlier, Mr Able and Ms Stephen carry out the governance visits here in New York.
“Each time I visit WPNY, I will have visited all the other schools for their termly governance visit and I will be bringing over all that fresh knowledge to share with Miss Bailey and her team.” Jenny Stephen
Ms Stephen is able to compare every school and ensures there is a consistency in what is happening and being delivered in each. Although there is the Gold Standard to be delivered across every school, like Mr Able, Ms Stephen comments upon how each school is unique and has its own identity, which is created by the Head of School.
Prior to the opening of WPNY, Ms Stephen and Miss Bailey talked extensively about how the school would look. She asked Miss Bailey what the core values of the school would be; the things that everyone will live and breathe every day. This is when the three core values were put in place; Respect, Responsibility, Resilience. It is not only the content of the curriculum but how it is delivered and what sits around it. The other things that are present at the school. For example, adults modelling the behaviour they’d like to see from the children and how the children are spoken to by the adults. Also, how parents are treated and how they are involved in the school.
In addition to the three visits per year, Ms Stephen talks with Miss Bailey over the phone once a fortnight to touch base about everything that is happening at the school, from areas such as recruitment, professional development to particular challenges that may have arisen and equally, any opportunities that may exist. Ms Stephen is there to be a mentor and a coach to Miss Bailey, as well as being there to challenge her and to simultaneously talk through and oversee all operations within the school too.
Ms Stephen has a relationship of this nature with all the Heads of Schools. She is accessible at any time of the day or evening to talk things through. She explained how the previous evening, one of the Heads in London had texted her to ask her if she had 5 minutes to talk through a specific scenario so they had a quick call and were able to talk things through. It really comes across how ‘easy’ the relationship is between these colleagues. Both between Ms Stephen and the Heads of School as well the relationships between the Heads themselves.
“Although I was a Head of School myself for 22 years, it wasn’t until my current role that I realised the impact each Head has on their respective school and upon the children, families and staff who are a part of it. That’s why it is so important to have the right person in place.” Jenny Stephen
Ms Stephen expressed how Miss Bailey went through a rigorous selection process to be appointed the Head of School at WPNY. She explained that Miss Bailey is able to apply her rich knowledge and expert skill set to her role and importantly, bring her wonderful personality to her position. Ms Stephen emphasised how Miss Bailey brings an exceptional level of personal care to everyone she engages with and emphasised how clear it is that every child matters to Miss Bailey. Also, how every parent, every family matters to Miss Bailey. She really cares and goes out of her way to do all she can to be available to provide the best care and service possible to all. Ms Stephen explained how, as Deputy Head at Wetherby in London, Miss Bailey lived and breathed the values and culture of the school and has been able to bring all of that knowledge out to New York.
In addition to all the Alpha Plus knowledge sharing, expertise and support, Ms Stephen has provided more expert in-put from outside of the Group to visit WPNY and work with Miss Bailey. This expert is Professor Pat Preedy, who is an Independent Inspector for Schools in the UK. She is also the creator of the Motor Movers programme (as written about in the last Spotlight article), amongst many other things. Professor Preedy visits the school and produces a report and then Miss Bailey is able to action areas highlighted in the report and also discuss them with Ms Stephen and other Alpha Plus colleagues.
“Continuous self-challenge produces growth. What can we do better?” Jenny Stephen
Always looking for ways to do things better is certainly a theme amongst the Alpha Plus Group’s leadership team!
Alpha Plus holds Continuing Professional Development forums in London. For example, a WPNY teacher has recently participated in a forum which has focused on well-being and how using particular language with children whilst they are at school helps to develop a ‘growth mindset’. For example, praise is given for effort rather than purely achievement. It’s about having a particular attitude which will allow continual progress. This same teacher will be attending a full day conference when in London to become even further educated in this area. There are constant opportunities made available to the faculty and staff to improve their knowledge and skills.
Having an open and consistent dialogue with parents is extremely important within the Alpha Plus Group. Ms Stephen gave an example of how their guidelines as to how to educate the children about digital literacy was created through two parents bringing it to the Head of their School in London. These parents asked what the school thought about digital literacy and this resulted in the school, and the Alpha Plus Group as a whole, realising that they needed to create something so Ms Francis led the team in creating the guidelines. Therefore, this parent-initiated project resulted in an outcome that benefitted all schools and children within the Group. Open and continuous dialogue between Alpha Plus schools and parents is valued enormously.
What is striking when talking with both Mr Able and Ms Stephen is that much of what they say is the same. The integrity of Alpha Plus’ philosophy is evident. Miss Bailey carries out this philosophy at WPNY with her unique style and influence.
Miss Kate Bailey, Head of School, WPNY
The passion Miss Bailey has for being Head of School at WPNY is visible for all to see. When talking with her, it is clear that her experience and personal journey to date, has led her to her current role at precisely the right time. She is proud to lead a school which brings the merits of a British education to Manhattan. She says, “our high academic standards, traditions and humour all combine to create a passion for life-long learning.”
Miss Bailey has strong Celtic roots with family coming from both Ireland and Wales. She started out her childhood in London as her father owned a bookshop on Regents Street called Bookends. They had an apartment which came with the bookshop and this is where Miss Bailey lived with her family. Her father supplied the books to Hamley’s, the famous toy store, and here, Miss Bailey met Roald Dahl amongst many other famous authors.
Miss Bailey shared how one morning she awoke to find a copy of The BFG at the end of her bed. She opened the front cover and it had been signed for her by Roald Dahl! Her father had requested he sign it and then crept in and left it for his daughter to wake up to in the morning. How magical! So, it was during these early formative years that Miss Bailey’s passion for literature was ignited. Miss Bailey was very inspired by her father, who she describes as amazing, passionate and a real ‘people person’. After owning the bookshop, her father went on to own a publishing house named Aura Books.
“I developed a strong work ethic and learnt the value of responsibility through working firstly in the bookshop and then later, the publishing house, during each school holiday. I received no special treatment as the owner’s daughter. I had to work hard and earn my way to positions which offered greater responsibility.” Kate Bailey
At the age of 9 years old, Miss Bailey moved with her family from London to Oxfordshire. It was here that she watched her mother volunteer her time to a charity in Oxford called The Gatehouse, which offers free support for adults aged 25+ who are homeless, vulnerably housed, on low income and / or looking for company and community. Miss Bailey said her mother’s values, and practical demonstration of these values through her work, inspired her own strong sense of service.
Miss Bailey then attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College, which is a highly selective independent boarding and day school for girls. This school’s objective is to prepare the girls to go on to achieve very highly in their chosen careers and aspire to get to the very top. Miss Bailey was a high academic achiever in all subjects and it was English Literature that remained her real passion throughout school and thereafter. She chose to study this, along with History, at Edinburgh University and left with a Master of Arts degree in 1999.
It was during her time at university that Miss Bailey discovered that she’d like to pursue a career in teaching. After earning her MA, she moved to London to acquire some teaching experience for a year at Garden House Boys’ School, London. This was prior to studying a PGCE in Primary Education at the University of London’s Institute of Education. Once she had qualified as a teacher, she took a post in September 2001 at Broomwood Hall School, which is co-ed, as a Year
3 teacher. Miss Bailey was the School Science Coordinator and also a House Mistress and rehearsed the House Choir Competitions which she won in 2004! Miss Bailey also naturally moved towards mentoring as part of her role and took on a second year B.Ed student as they completed their school placements. During this time, Miss Bailey became a qualified Co-Tutor through a course at Roehampton University, London.
In 2004 Miss Bailey accepted a position teaching Year 3 at Westminster Under School, London. Here, she was responsible for the organization of 7+ and 8+ admission days and subsequent selection of pupils. This is a highly selective school and very academically focused. By January 2007, Miss Bailey was Head of the Junior Department, which meant she was responsible for Years 3 and 4. As well as running the entire department, she was also in charge of the Year 3 class for 4 years. In addition to these responsibilities, Miss Bailey was the Director of the Christmas Junior Productions. Drama is one of her passions and she directed five plays during her time at Westminster Under. The last two musical productions Miss Bailey directed included the entire Junior Department with 62 boys in the cast. She also implemented, and was responsible for, Year 3 sleep away excursions to Somerset each March as well as a ski trip to Champery.
In September of 2011, Miss Bailey had commenced her first position with the Alpha Plus Group, as Head of the Senior School at Wetherby Prep. It only took one year for her to be promoted to Deputy Head and by 2015, she was Senior Deputy Head. Miss Bailey said, “when I joined Wetherby Prep, it felt like I had come home”. She went onto explain that she felt the culture and approach of the school was an example of how the best schools operate; an excellent leadership team, a dedicated teaching team, a sense of balance and a belief in educating and nurturing the whole child, superb exit rates, partnership with the parents, respectful behaviour, good manners and, central to everything, a culture of kindness.
Ms Stephen commented that Miss Bailey lived and breathed the culture at Wetherby Prep and this was integral to her ability to move to New York in 2016 and successfully put in place all that was necessary to open WPNY in September 2017. As this was the Alpha Plus Group’s first international venture, as has been mentioned previously, it was paramount that the right person was appointed to lead the project.
These two wonderful water colour paintings were commissioned to mark and celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the opening of Wetherby Prep School.
All of Miss Bailey’s previous experience, coupled with her passion, drive, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit meant that this opportunity opened up at the precisely the right moment.
“I’ve never felt so fulfilled and I turn up to school each day with enthusiasm and a tremendous sense of purpose. All my experience has led me to this position, and it is an absolute privilege to be given this opportunity.” Kate Bailey
The Wall Street Journal featured an article on WPNY in 2016. Although other British schools have opened in New York, WPNY is the only one with a royal connection!
It was recognised how important it was to take opportunities to publicise and promote the arrival of WPNY in New York. As a result, Miss Bailey was featured being interviewed about the school on PBS Metrofocus.
A Passion for Sports and Construction Projects…
“It’s talent that gets you through the door but character that keeps you in the room.” Kate Bailey
During Miss Bailey’s time at Wetherby Prep, representatives came in to speak to the boys about prospective careers. One of them was a banker, who explained that when recruiting candidates to work within a prestigious banking environment, it goes without saying that all successful applicants will likely have been to a top university and have top grades for their A Levels. However, when it comes to submitting their first work report, they are not often able to take criticism if their work needs correcting or improving. He commented that they feel like they have failed and don’t take this well. The banker explained that building resilience during one’s school years is crucial to becoming successful in a work environment. It’s no use having such great academic achievements behind you if you can’t apply yourself once employed. This really stuck with Miss Bailey and the importance of building life skills whilst at school resonated with her. This really echoes what Mr Able was saying about teaching the whole child and how important a holistic approach to education is.
Miss Bailey commented that she has seen how the many residential trips she’s organised and accompanied the children on over the years supports the development of many important skills. She has taken students to South Africa (left), Paris, Milan, the Ardeche in France and Champery.
Building a sense of community not only within but beyond the school is important to Miss Bailey and she has worked hard to build a strong relationship with New York’s ‘Notable Neighbours’.
When term time finishes and the holidays arrive, Miss Bailey often enjoys travelling back to the UK and to Ireland, where many of her family members live. She loves to cook and this comes from her mother’s side of the family. Indeed, her relatives run a restaurant in Foxrock in Dublin called ‘Bistro One’! Here is George (left) the family dog in Ireland!
Miss Bailey has built an extremely strong team around her and she works very closely with her Deputy, Mrs Alice Charteris. She says of Mrs Charteris, “I will always remember interviewing her as I knew instantly she was the right person for the role. She was dynamic, ambitious, creative and really well prepared.”
Mrs Alice Charteris, Deputy Head of School, WPNY
Mrs Charteris has been instrumental in helping to successfully establish WPNY here in New York. She has been central to getting the curriculum off the ground from scratch. This takes an enormous amount of work and commitment and she has been dedicated to successfully delivering a well-balanced curriculum, as well as the extra-curricular After School programme. She has loved sharing her insight and expertise on the English National Curriculum with colleagues, and also enjoys leading the Professional Development programme for staff.
Mrs Charteris grew up in the Midlands in England with her parents and two older brothers, Matt and Sam (right). From a very early age, she knew she wanted to be a teacher and didn’t want to ever be anything else. Her primary / elementary school years were spent at a co-ed state school and at the age of 11, she moved to an independent, selective girls’ school.
After completing school, she attended Durham University to study Primary Education, specialising in Mathematics. The summer prior to leaving for university, Mrs Charteris met, who is now, her husband. Mr Charteris attended Northumbria University in Newcastle so geographically, they were close enough to be able to see one another. After they both completed their degrees, they moved into an apartment in Newcastle and spent the following 7 years there.
During this time, Mrs Charteris took her first teaching role at a state school in the neighbouring county of Northumberland. It was called Malvin’s Close Primary School and during her time there, she taught Year 3 and Year 1.
After 7 years in the north of England, Mrs Charteris’ husband got a job in London and they made the move down to the capital. It was here that Mrs Charteris moved into the independent school sector when she took a position at a school in Hampstead called Lyndhurst House for Boys. Mrs Charteris explained that the school had a lot of similarities to Wetherby and she very much enjoyed her time there.
Mrs Charteris’ next role was at Bute House, which is a top girls’ day school in London. It’s an extremely competitive selective school and takes a lot of girls from Pembridge Hall at 7+. It is also one of the main feeder schools into St Paul’s Girls’ School. Mrs Charteris spent the first 5 years here as a teacher and was then promoted to Head of the Lower School. She spent 3 years in this role and so was at Bute House for a total of 8 years.
It was after this that Mrs Charteris joined WPNY as Deputy Head of School and moved over to New York in 2017. Her first main task was to create a curriculum.
“As well as drawing upon my own knowledge, I draw from the experience and expertise of the team of faculty around me. Together, we carefully evaluate how to implement parts of the English National Curriculum so that it works in conjunction with what is taught here in the US.” Alice Charteris
Mrs Charteris explains how aware her and the wider team are that the curriculum at WPNY must ensure each child is prepared for every avenue when they exit the school. Whether families are applying to schools in the US, internationally or to schools in the UK (at 7+, 8+, 11+ or 13+), every child must be prepared.
Writing and publishing the curriculum to Grade 8 is what Mrs Charteris has been recently focusing on. Once published, both current and prospective parents can see what is to come as their children progress through the school. She is pleased to confirm that this will be published, at the latest, by the beginning of the next academic year, September 2020.
In order to put the curriculum in place, Mrs Charteris had a non-teaching position for the first year at the school, however, in the second year she taught Grade 1 in addition to continuing with her other responsibilities. This academic year, she is teaching the Kindergarten class alongside Mr Stephenson. Mrs Charteris emphasizes that she believes, as Deputy Head, it is important to have a role in the classroom so that you’re able to lead by example and be in touch with what is happening in the classroom. This knowledge and experience may then inform her work in both planning and teaching.
Mrs Charteris conveyed how important open dialogue is between parents and the school and how it’s so helpful that she is able to know every child at WPNY in respect to both academic performance and in a social and emotional context too. She emphasized that no one child is the same and each is running their own race. Every child needs to consider their own rate of progress rather than comparing themselves to their peers. She credits her own childhood and her parent’s decision to send her and her two brothers all to different schools in order to accommodate each of their different needs as having an impact on her in this regard. It led her to realise that every child is so different and needs something different from the next.
In addition to her teaching role and also creating the curriculum, Mrs Charteris shared some of the other areas she is responsible for and enjoys working on. These are as follows:
- Day to day logistics of how the school operates
- Safeguarding: which includes meeting weekly with Mr Vargas and Mr Rainey to ensure all is safe in the building, such as fire escapes, stairs and bathrooms
- Working closely with the administrative team to share information and plan ahead
- Admissions: working as part of the team to ensure the process is executed in an optimal way
- Recruitment of staff and faculty: enjoys working as part of the team which reviews and selects the best applicant for a given position
- Overseeing the Continuing Professional Development programme for faculty and staff
- Creating and managing the After School Club programme
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions!” Alice Charteris
Mrs Charteris commented that receiving feedback, reviewing and reflecting is crucial to moving forwards positively. This is particularly important when creating something from scratch, like the curriculum. Indeed, Miss Bailey commented that Mrs Charteris is fantastic at listening to and incorporating constructive feedback. Miss Bailey said, “it’s an important asset to have and this makes a good leader!”
There is such an abundance of knowledge, skill and expertise at WPNY and the Alpha Plus Group! Thank you to all of the leadership team for all you do for us and our children!