Interview: George Budd, Moreton Hall
Moreton Hall’s new principal, George Budd, tells Jo Golding about how he owes his teaching career to one of his own teachers, who helped him decide on his educational path. Now he hopes to do the same, helping young people confidently take their next steps
Q. Can you sum up your career history?
I have worked at four independent girls’ schools in a range of roles over the last 15 years. I began at Lady Eleanor Holles teaching geography and was later responsible for building and developing partnerships with local state schools.
I moved to Sir William Perkins’s School as head of geography and was later head of sixth form, growing the numbers in that part of the school by 40%.
A move to Wiltshire followed as deputy head academic at Godolphin School, where we were awarded South West Independent School of the Year for improvements in our examination results alongside the broad offering beyond the curriculum. I was drawn into Moreton Hall from my first visit here back in November 2018 and have loved every moment of life here so far.
Q. What inspired you to go into education?
I’m sure we all have that teacher at school who we can credit with playing a key role in defining our future selves and I’m no different. My careers teacher at school went above and beyond to help me change my chosen course from law to geography at the last moment. Only Durham would have me at that stage and it’s down to him that I ended up there. After university it felt important to be involved with helping young people take their next steps after being at school and so I decided to get into teaching.
Q. What are the best things about being a principal, and the biggest challenges?
Being able to shape the education of nearly 500 young people is an enormous privilege. Students only go through the education system once and the uniquely dedicated team of staff at Moreton all pull together to ensure that their time with us allows them to make the best possible progress.
Ensuring that happens is both the best thing about the job, as well as the biggest challenge.
Q. What issue in education are you most passionate about?
A hard decision, but I would probably say staff professional development. I feel that, as principal, part of my role is to provide the conditions the staff need to do their jobs to the very best of their ability. That has many ingredients, but an important one is certainly developing the staff we have in the areas they identify.
I also hope for a day when independent schools are represented more accurately in the media. We are simply not the bastions of privilege you so often see described. Moreton spends millions each year on bursarial support to ensure that those who would benefit from an education here are enabled, within our means, to attend the school. I am so proud of this fact and our school community is considerably enriched as a result.
Q. What was your favourite subject at school?
Geography, although as I said above it took me slightly too long to realise this. I adore a good landscape view.
Q. What is your favourite book?
I found huge optimism in Factfulness by Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling. It covers a lot of ground to do with development in the modern world and left me with a great sense of the progress humans have achieved in recent decades. Hans was also a fantastic presenter (sadly, he died in 2017) – do look up his various TED talks. You can really hear him through the book.
I also hope for a day when independent schools are represented more accurately in the media
Q. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Mountain biking (which I must admit was a major attraction of living at Moreton, on the outskirts of North Wales) and travelling with my wife. As a geographer and as a school leader, I have found there is nothing quite like visiting a place for developing cultural literacy and a better understanding of the backgrounds of students or parents I might meet. That all helps with providing a truly tailored education.
Q. In what direction will you be taking Moreton Hall?
Moreton is a hugely successful school with world-class resources and the girls and parents tell me the staff always go the extra mile. The ethos of the school is in the walls – and so that is not going anywhere; it’s what appealed to me in the first place.
The new Holroyd Community Theatre opened in November and showcases everything which is great about this school; inclusive and community-focused whilst developing the individual talents of those who perform on its stage. The Holroyd provides us with a wonderful opportunity to grow our community footprint further still.
There is always more to do in any school; an ongoing focus on ensuring our facilities are all equally superb, developing our offering in our mixed prep school, Moreton First, and ensuring our students leave both digitally literate and widely read are some of the foci for the coming years.
Q. In one sentence, what makes Moreton Hall stand out?
It’s a forward-looking school with a liberal and entrepreneurial ethos where the students develop as individuals, unencumbered by petty rules or gender stereotypes.
Q. If you weren’t in education, what would you do instead?
I’d have probably ended up as a pilot; I sometimes think the flight is the best part of a holiday. There’s a lot other industries can learn from aviation.
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