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Boarder patrol at Culford School

PUBLISHED: 16:21 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:21 20 February 2013

Boarder patrol at Culford School

Boarder patrol at Culford School

Mike Schofield was appointed headmaster of Culford Prep School last September. Previously, he and wife Sarah had been involved running one of the school's senior boarding houses

Mike Schofield was appointed headmaster of Culford Prep School last September. Previously, he and wife Sarah had been involved running one of the school's senior boarding houses




Being up and out of the house before 7am may not seem the ideal start to a day for everyone, but I love it. I am fortunate to live within the stunning 480-acre Culford Park and, at that time of the day, I can take advantage of its seasonal beauty while walking Fairfax, the family Border collie before fitting in half an hour in our school swimming pool. This is possibly one of the greatest advantages of having an extremely short commute to work of about 250 metres!
My wife Sarah, a personal trainer who works with the Culfords elite tennis players, will use this time to enjoy a morning cuppa before getting our two sons, Charlie and Fergus, organised for school.
Over breakfast, we discuss everyones plans for the day ahead before I walk across to the Prep School entrance to meet pupils and parents as they arrive for school. I then attend collective worship which is led by the school chaplain and myself, and is organised by the head boy and head girl. They are supported by colleagues and prefects with sermon, readings and prayers.
When I get back to the office my secretary and right hand person, Philippa, reminds me of my diary commitments. The running of the school is very much a whole team effort, with regular meetings with the senior management and the school marketing teams to ensure the school runs smoothly on a daily basis. With numbers growing over 220 pupils aged seven to 13 and a close-knit boarding community of some 45 children communication is crucial and the recent judgement that our pastoral care is outstanding was a highlight of our last inspection report.
Over lunch in the schools dining room, I catch up with pupils and find out what is happening in their lives.
I try to pop into lessons regularly and both staff and pupils have welcomed this opportunity to ask me questions. One current focus for development is the programme to create more boarding places to meet demand. Boarding has seen a resurgence in recent years and we have proved especially popular with Services families. Our aim is to create a home from home experience and the children describe it as being like one big sleepover every night but with prep (homework)!
One of my priorities during the week is a visit to Culfords Pre-Prep and Nursery, which are located in their own purpose-designed buildings. I think it is really important that the youngsters know me and get used to me, as this will help greatly in their transition to the prep school when they are seven. I always try to re-affirm the traditional values of respect and responsibility in all members of the school community, whilst also making sure that the childrens experience of education here is challenging, enriching and fun. Those three words have become synonymous with life at Culford! Ultimately, if children are to succeed at learning, it is vitally important they have fun and enjoy themselves while they learn.
If I am not on the touch-line at a match, one of my favourite roles is to host the Headmasters Benefecit Teas in the Jubilee Library when delicious cakes and sandwiches are on offer. This is a great way to say well done and chat with the pupils about their recent successes in the classroom and in the wider school community.
All children are involved in after-school activities and many will not finish until 5.20pm each day. I also am involved with this programme, most recently with a cross country activity. I then like to meet and greet parents and see our pupils as they finish another busy day; it is a great opportunity to build relationships in an informal way and I almost always learn something new.
I will usually return to my office for a final check on emails and to tidy up any paperwork. While the boarders get ready for prep, I return home to my own family and the evening often sees me finishing the day as I started it walking Fairfax in the peace and beauty of Culford Park.

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