Since September 2016, Mr Andrew Stubbs BA PGCE, previously deputy head of junior school, who joined the school in 2005.
Head of pre-prep is Mrs Evelyn Gibbs PA, PARICS, PGCE. Previously acting head in St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Chingford. Did her degree in history, then became a chartered surveyor, retraining as a teacher, after which she worked in the state sector, teaching year 6s and under, before moving into educational leadership. A friendly and softly-spoken woman, she doesn’t have an obvious air of leadership, but make no mistake – she is largely responsible for the pre-prep having hit the ground running and staff, pupils and parents praise her for achieving the ‘perfect balance of making the children feel nurtured, whilst also getting them academically ready for the junior school.’ There was quite a bit of parental anxiety, a few parents told us, that with automatic entry into the junior school (rather than the usual rigorous assessment at age 7) that standards would subsequently drop in juniors. Also known for her enthusiasm and constant push on innovation, and other staff told us she’s never short on great ideas. ‘The pre-prep is her baby and she seems to love it with the same level of passion,’ said one parent. Lives locally with her husband, and has two grown-up children.
Since 2007, Mr Michael Punt MA MSc PGCE (40s), a physicist who lives on site with his wife Gill and their three sons, all of whom attend the school – a fact that many parents say ‘keeps him in tune with pupils’ and parents’ experiences of Chigwell.’ His calm and positive influence is palpable throughout the school, with parents describing him as ‘approachable,’ ‘well-liked’ and ‘respected.’ In fact, many were swayed against the local competition purely on the basis of meeting him. ‘He doesn’t just talk at you in some grand hall – he chats with you in a relaxed way and seems to know exactly what you want to know,’ said one.
Pupils also speak enthusiastically about him. ‘He knows every one of us, as well as taking an interest in us,’ one pupil told us. Not for him a chief executive type headship, but rather a personal touch that’s helped by the size of the school and the fact that he and colleagues interview every child that comes here. Mainly, though, it seems to be down to his hands-on approach – he teaches pupils, does a lot of mock interviews and is often seen around the school. The week before our visit, he’d had all the prefects round for a meal and he eats regularly with the boarders.