GARETH PEARSON, THE NEW HEAD OF CHRIST COLLEGE, BRECON, HAS STATED HIS INTENTION TO DEVELOP THE SCHOOL’S HOLISTIC APPROACH, WHILE MAINTAINING ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AND KEEPING IT ACCESSIBLE TO LESS ADVANTAGED
Set within the Brecon Beacons National Park, Christ College has enjoyed a high-quality reputation since its creation nearly five centuries ago. This success relies not only on academic results, but also on a long tradition of strong positive relationships between the Head, staff and pupils.
Gareth explained: “There are many reasons why I was attracted to Christ College, but one of the main factors was its unique nurturing environment. Heads at many of the bigger schools are more Chief Executives than Heads, and this wasn’t what I was looking for.
“I love the strength of community in this school, where everyone knows everyone. Positive relationships underpin everything at Christ College, and allow staff to bring out the very best from our pupils. The excellent pastoral care they show for the school and its pupils is truly palpable and authentic.”
However, the new Head has no intention to rest on his predecessors’ laurels. The father of two children who also joined Christ College this year, has already announced some key ambitions for the school where nearly 400 pupils (over half of whom are boarders) and 130 members of staff meet every day.
Gareth wants to take forward the all-round character education provided at Christ College, by further developing the school’s “whole-person” approach while maintaining its excellent academic standards.
He said: “I want Christ College to be the very best in Britain at developing the kind of character traits in its people to enable them to perform at their best, but more importantly, be kind, decent and generous team players who will be forces for good in any community in which they live.”
“I believe a boarding school is best placed to offer this all-round character education, and one of our school’s greatest strengths is that most of our pupils achieve their full academic potential in an environment that is calm, supportive and balanced.
“These are ideal conditions for them to develop tolerance of others, sensitivity to other pupils and adults, high moral standards and a strong sense of citizenship – characteristics that will always be valued, whatever career they wish to pursue, and however much the world changes in the years ahead.”
The long-established quality of the teaching, combined with the modern facilities available throughout the campus, have led Christ College to consistently achieve the top ratings in the independent Advanced Level Information Survey (ALIS) conducted by Durham University every year.
Christ College also regularly consults parents to ensure their expectations are met. Over the years, the school developed its own parental satisfaction survey, incorporating best practice outlined by the Independent Schools Council. Last year, the survey revealed outstanding parental satisfaction, with a Parent Advocacy rating of 96%. This is well above important national benchmarks, indicating strong support and loyalty from the parents.
But quality always comes at a price, and with over a decade of experience in education, Gareth is well-aware of this accessibility issue.
He explains: “My biggest challenge at Christ College is to keep education as affordable as possible. We plan to launch a fundraising campaign in the years ahead to be able to offer places to pupils who would not otherwise be able to afford it.”
Gareth, who graduated as a mechanical engineer before converting to education, brings to Christ College his teaching and leadership experience from former roles as Maths teacher, Housemaster and Deputy Head at Millfield School, Wellington College and Lord Wandsworth College, in addition to expertise from his earlier career as a Captain in the Royal Marines.
He said: “I feel very honoured to have been chosen for this position, and incredibly lucky to get to work in such beautiful area with such friendly and humble people. The town of Brecon is fabulous, it has the facilities of a city, but the warmth and familiarity of a small town nestled in some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain.
“People could not have been more supportive during my first few weeks at Christ College, and I look forward to seeing the first results of our collective work.”
Next month will see the opening of a refurbished Sixth Form Centre at the school for its 120 Year 12 and 13 pupils.
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