A warm welcome to all our new staff

A number of new staff joined Ripon Grammar School in September. ROMOLA OGUNDAIRO caught up with a few of them to find out more

Miss BARBARA SHEILLS

(Deputy senior houseparent in girls’ boarding, also a qualified sports teacher)

Q: What attracted you to apply for a job at RGS?

A: The reputation of the school.

Q: What was your previous job?

A: I worked at Harrogate Grammar School as a PE department technician.

Q: What was your first impression of the staff and students in school?

A: I love the pupils, that’s why I like working in the pastoral section. I get on very well with the other boarding staff.

Q: Is there a big change in the environment compared to your previous workplace?

A: No not really, but I have worked in some big independent schools. Girls are nicer here though.

Q: What would you say your biggest challenge in school is so far?

A: Ensuring everyone in the boarding house is happy and feels comfortable.

Q: If you were to describe the community in school in three words, what would they be?

A: Friendly, caring, committed.

Q: What was your worst GCSE subject?

A: Mathematics, took me three goes to get a pass!

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I have lots! I love walking the dog - lots of fab places to go near here. I like cycling, DIY around my house, gardening, reading, cooking, and ANY sport - watching or playing!

Mrs CLAIRE-LISE HARRISON

(Head of modern foreign languages, teaching mainly French)

Q: What attracted you to apply for a job at RGS?

A: As a family we decided to return to the UK from Malawi and we were thrilled to come back to North Yorkshire, where I grew up.

Q: What was your previous job?

A: I worked at St Andrew’s International High School in Malawi.

Q: What was your first impression of the staff and students at RGS?

A: The staff were extremely welcoming and helpful. My classes so far have been delightful!

Q: Is there a big change in the environment compared to your previous workplace?

A: Yes, this feels like a paradigm shift after St Andrew's! On average it is 20 degrees colder here. The school day starts two hours later, the lessons feel very short and, culturally, it is vastly different too.

Q: What would you say your biggest challenge in school is so far?

A: My main challenges are linked to Covid-19 restrictions, but I do find the eight-lesson day a real challenge! (And I'm missing my Smart Board).

Q: If you were to describe the community in school in three words, what would they be?

A: Positive, focused, helpful.

Q: What was your worst GCSE subject?

A: I found mathematics really difficult. I was in a top set where everyone always 'got it' straight away and I felt totally left behind most of the time.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I love music. I listen to most genres of music and I love to play the piano and flute. I enjoy walking and swimming, but am missing the outdoor pool we had at school in Malawi!

*Find out more about a remarkable set of coincidences surrounding Mrs Harrison here

Mrs NATASHA COLVILLE-ROBINS

Head of geography (maternity cover)

Q: What attracted you to apply for a job at RGS?

A: One of my housemates at Lancaster University went to RGS (many years ago!) and he always spoke very highly of the school. When I moved to Yorkshire, I continued to be impressed by its reputation.

Q: What was your previous job?

A: I worked as geography curriculum leader at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate.

Q: What was your first impression of the staff and students in school?

A:I have had a positive first impression of RGS - staff and students have been friendly, welcoming and polite! A standout moment of the first couple of weeks was that I dropped a lot of papers on my way to the Sixth Form Centre on my second day: without hesitation, four or five students immediately came across and helped me to collect my belongings and returned them to me - it was very kind of them and showed me what a lovely group of students I would be working with.

Q: Is there a big change in the environment compared to your previous workplace?

A: The school I was at previously had 1,600 students, so RGS feels smaller and more of a tight-knit community. I feel that I'm getting to know the students quickly - even if I don't learn everyone's names immediately!

Q: What would you say your biggest challenge in school is so far?

A: Learning everyone’s names also links to the biggest challenge I've faced - I was at my last school for seven years so I knew most of the students as I'd likely have taught them (or their siblings) before, so I'd only have to learn a handful of new names in September. It's been a challenge and is taking me a long time to learn everyone's names!

Q:If you were to describe the community in school in three words, what would they be?

A: Friendly, welcoming and hardworking.

Q: What was your worst GCSE subject?

A: My worst GCSE subject was mathematics. It was probably the hardest I worked for any of my GCSEs because I knew it was the one I found the most difficult (and I knew if I did well enough at GCSE I would never need to study it again!).

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: The hobby that takes up most of my free time is volunteering for Girlguiding, I am a Brownies leader also known as "Brown Owl". I also enjoy cooking and travelling (although this hobby is somewhat on hold due to the pandemic!)


Mr
JAMES COFFIN

(Resident houseparent in boys’ boarding)

Q: What attracted you to apply for a job at RGS?

A: The role and the location.

Q: What was your previous job?

A: My last teaching job was as head of maths at a prep school in Edgbaston

Q: What was your first impression of the staff and students in school?

A: Everyone seems very sensible and down-to-earth.

Q: Is there a big change in the environment compared to your previous workplace?

A: I have worked in a prep school and a couple of boarding schools before. There are some similarities and lots of differences. This is the biggest school I've ever worked in.

Q: What would you say your biggest challenge in school is so far?

A: The biggest challenge so far is keeping up to date with and implementing all the Covid-19 restrictions.

Q: If you were to describe the community in school in three words, what would they be?

A: Compassionate, co-operative and laid-back.

Q: What was your worst GCSE subject?

A: Expressive and performing arts

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: Munro bagging, hiking, cycling, woodworking and I used to go caving.


Mrs
VICTORIA PANG

(Mathematics and IT teacher, and lower sixth form tutor)

Q: What attracted you to apply for a job at RGS?

A: Living in Ripon, a big part of the attraction of RGS was to have an eco-friendly journey to work on my bike.

Q: What was your previous job?

A: I worked as a mathematics teacher at Rossett School in Harrogate.

Q: What was your first impression of the staff and students in school?

A: I felt welcomed as everyone here is very friendly and polite.

Q: Is there a big change in the environment compared to your previous workplace?

A: It is smaller than my previous school, so I'm finding I'm bumping into staff and students more regularly, which is making settling in really quick.

Q: What would you say your biggest challenge in school is so far?

A: My biggest challenge (due to Covid-19 restrictions) is definitely teaching in so many different classrooms and moving all around the school.

Q: If you were to describe the community in school in three words, what would they be?

A: Welcoming, friendly, nice

Q: What was your worst GCSE subject?

A: My worst GCSE subject was Latin. However, 20-plus years later, I can still recite some of the set text we had to learn - I think it was Cicero.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: My hobbies are running, walking, biking, and spending time with my family and friends.