Meet the Team

Ben Figgis has been the Headmaster at Ardingly since September 2014. After graduating in Modern History from Cambridge University in 1990, his early career was spent in advertising and then television news. At 30 he decided to follow his passion for History, and took up his first teaching job at Abingdon School in Oxfordshire. After four years he was appointed to run a boarding house, a role he describes as ‘the best and most demanding in education.’ During his time at Abingdon he coached senior rugby, football and tennis teams, as well as directing several plays. In 2004, Ben moved to Oakham School as the Deputy Head, and became a strong advocate of learning beyond the classroom, co-education and the IB Diploma as an alternative to A Levels. Ben and his wife, Joanna, have three children: George, Clemmie and Rosabel, all of whom have been educated at Ardingly. Ben’s interests include theatre, fly fishing, tennis and road cycling, as well as the literature and history of America and Russia.

James Johnson joined Ardingly College in 2016 from Tonbridge School where he taught English to all ages, was a boarding Housemaster and coached the 1st XV and 1st VII rugby for a number of years, as well as cricket and athletics. As an undergraduate, he read English Literature at UCL and he then studied for an MPhil in Anglo-Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin, before completing his PGCE at Cambridge. His first teaching job was at Cheltenham College. He is married to Rachel, a psychologist who works for Young Epilepsy, a charity in Lingfield. They have two children, Joseph and Emma. Having worked in both single sex and co-educational schools, and enjoyed both immensely, moving to Ardingly has been a welcome reminder of the ways in which teaching both girls and boys in class enriches all discussion. James describes Ardingly as ‘a quintessentially British school which is at ease with its international mix of cultures and global outlook.’

Harry Hastings joined Ardingly College Prep School in January 2018. He was previously Head of Brighton College Prep School. He has taught at both boarding and day schools, including the Dragon School in Oxford and Cumnor House.

Harry is married to Kate, a consultant anaesthetist at Brighton Hospital, and they have three children Lizzie, Barney and Rex.

Mr Hastings commented: “It is an extremely exciting time to become part of Ardingly College. The school’s World Ready initiative is one that sits closely with my educational philosophy and I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”


Georgina Stafford joined Ardingly College in 2013 from Brighton College, where she was Head of Politics, an Assistant Housemistress and Deputy Head of Sixth Form. As an undergraduate she read History and Politics at Oxford. Her first teaching job was at Uppingham. Her husband, Richard Stafford, is Director of Music at Ardingly College. Having previously worked at A Level-only, not split schools, she has enjoyed overseeing the delivery of the International Baccalaureate, and has relished working with the Sixth Form at Ardingly College, particularly in preparing them for university and life beyond the classroom. Away from school, her interests include local politics, Byzantine and Eastern European history, and horticulture.

Having spent 13 years living overseas, she joined Ardingly in September 2014 as a Chemistry teacher and was appointed Director of Activities in 2015 and Head of Boarding in 2018.  Her previous experience includes being a Housemistress at Queen Anne’s, Caversham, Head of Department at Tormead School and teaching at the British School of Houston. She has a BSc in Biotechnology and another passion is Jazzercise – her classes can often be heard around the College campus!

Nicola Burns joined Ardingly College in 2008 from Tonbridge Grammar School, where she taught Mathematics to all ages and was the Assistant Head of Mathematics. As an undergraduate, she read Mathematics at Queen’s University in Belfast and studied for a PGCE in Secondary Mathematics at the University of Brighton.

Nicola has enjoyed many roles within the College. She joined as a teacher of maths, became second in department, had a year as an assistant Housemistress, was appointed as the head of the Maths department, then moved into Senior Management with five years as Head of Middle School to then become Deputy Head (Staff & Operations).

“There is a very good reason why I have been at the College so long, and that is because it has a constantly evolving and outward-looking desire to improve. The students and staff are a real pleasure to work with and the international diversity is a rare find in such a beautifully set ‘traditional’ British School.”

Pamela’s career in Marketing and Innovation spans 25 years in world-leading companies including Pepsico, The Body Shop, Nestlé, Diageo and Mars. She has led local and global teams for household brands such as Smirnoff Vodka, Gordon’s Gin, Fruit Shoot, Pepsi, Nescafé, Extra and recently at Graze. Her career has taken her and her family overseas to the US and the Netherlands. In 2016, following years of travelling, she decided to change direction, spend more time with her family with a local commute, and take on her new role: building Ardingly’s reputation and championing the College. The decision was an easy one as her children, Charlotte, George and Annabelle, attended the school and she loves the College.

When not working or involved in events at Ardingly College, Pamela can be found walking her dogs, or reading a good crime novel.

Jim has been at Ardingly College since 2009. He was previously Head of Maths at Downsend School in Surrey. As Deputy Head of the Prep School, Jim ensures the smooth running of the Prep School on a day-to-day basis and is responsible for the pastoral side of school life. He continues to teach maths to the older year groups and, in the Trinity term, feeds his passion for cricket by coaching the Prep 1st team.

Jim is married to Nicky, who is also a teacher at the Prep. They have four children, all of whom have been students at Ardingly College; Eddie, the youngest, is currently studying IB.

Jim describes the Prep School’s atmosphere as ‘captivating’.

Suzanne Pendlebury-Bowe joined Ardingly College Prep School in September 2016 from Derwent Lodge where she was Head of Juniors. She has a degree in Computer Science and a PGCE from Canterbury University. Her early career was spent in the banking industry, latterly as a Risk Manager, before she decided to follow her dream to be a teacher.

Suzanne is married to Les and has two children, Alexander and William who both attend the college.

Suzanne loves her role and says “It’s a privilege to be able to watch the children develop and grow from Year 3 through to Year 8, ensuring they are ready for the next part of their educational journey”​


Amy has been at Ardingly College since 2016. She was previously Head of Pre-Prep at Dorset House School. As Head of Pre-Prep, Amy ensures the smooth running of the Pre- Prep and Nursery Department on a day-to-day basis and is responsible for the pastoral side of school life. Amy continues to teach throughout the Pre-Prep.

Amy loves to travel and spent two years teaching in an International School in Malaysia and enjoys encouraging exploring different cultures. In her own classroom the register is called using different languages and you can hear the children eagerly announcing “Selmat Pagi” or “Privet Miss Venables Kyrke”.

Amy strongly believes that we must enable our smallest pupils to Discover Their World and that this curiosity is what will make children successful in life.

Leonie Gurd was born and brought up in the New Forest area of Hampshire, where walking and sailing from an early age developed into lifelong loves.  She read Chemistry at Exeter University, where she also developed an interest in business management.  She secured a work placement in industrial management in Japan and then gained a place on the Whitbread Graduate Management Training Scheme, working for the company for several years.  With Chemistry her primary interest, she was tempted back into education and, after completing her PGCE at Leicester University, taught sciences to all ages at a maintained co-educational school in Hampshire where she was promoted rapidly to Head of Years 8 and 9 and was involved in research into learning with the Hampshire Education research team.  Leonie joined Ardingly College in 2001 as a Chemistry teacher and Assistant Housemistress, and her subsequent roles have included boarding Housemistress, Senior Mistress, and her current position as Head of Student and Staff Support. Leonie describes life at Ardingly College as ‘a microcosm of the world, with all its excitement, challenges and wonders. I have learnt so much from both staff and students, past and present, and hope I can continue to pass this learning on to others.’  In her spare time, Leonie enjoys sailing with friends, and has a home in the New Forest where she loves walking with her dog.

Karen Maurice-Jones read Economics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, before embarking upon a career in the Law, working initially in Corporate Finance at a big City law firm and then for different Development Finance Institutions in relation to various Economic Development projects.  After having daughter number five, Karen decided to pursue a career option that would require less travelling but make good use of her academic background and joined Ardingly in 2013 as an Economics teacher.  While at Ardingly she has been Head of Department and Assistant Head of Sixth Form, and has been involved in a wide variety of activities including Rowing, Debating, Law Soc and Economics Reading Group as well as having led trips to Brussels, Morocco and Mostar.  Karen enjoys the mix of academic and pastoral work in her current role and particularly appreciates working with students from a wide range of different countries.  She says being a teacher is much more enjoyable than being a lawyer! 

Chris Quayle joined Ardingly as the Head of Geography in January 2015. He graduated from Durham University in 2008 having read Geography, after which he completed a PGCE and MEd at the same institution. The latter focused on the impacts of co-education on student motivation levels. He then taught at Worth School, where he was a Deputy Housemaster and Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Co-ordinator, and KCS Wimbledon, where he was in charge of the King’s Essay and EPQ. He has been an expert examiner for Edexcel IGCSE and A Level, coached numerous football and rugby age groups and dabbled in athletics. His wife, Charlotte, is Head of Girls’ Games and PE in the Prep School and they have a son, Henry. Chris was elected as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2016 and, when not working, can most likely be found travelling in far-flung places across the globe.

Dan Davies joined Ardingly in 2003, having worked in PR for a hospice charity and then in marketing for the NSPCC in their London Head Office.  Becoming the Head of Business in 2005, he introduced A Level Economics and developed a new department in the Thomas Beard building, introducing the popular ‘Take a Risk’ enterprise programme at the same time.  In 2006 he became Assistant Housemaster of Crosse and then, in 2012, took on the role of ICT Development Coordinator.  Dan was brought up in Wales and he loves being outside in his free time, especially walking and gardening.  He studied at Aberystwyth, a favoured university for students from across Wales, and enjoyed its remote location and beauty.  Having completed a PGCE in Brighton, Dan began his career at Ardingly and is keen to highlight the interest in change and development amongst all staff, regardless of their length of service.  His work in developing the use of ICT led him to be involved extensively with staff training and this informs his current work, in which he aims to build a self-sustaining culture of professional development.  In 2017, Dan joined the Senior Management Team as Head of Staff Development (Teaching).  He says: “I hope to tap into the enthusiasm and passion for teaching among the staff and work with others across the College to continually improve the quality of what we do.”  He continues to teach both Business and Economics, and is a tutor in Crosse House.

Mr M A Couch, MSci (Imperial), ARCS, MRSC

Mr M A Couch, MSci (Imperial), ARCS, MRSC

Head of Academic Systems

Mr B Appleby, BA (Canterbury), PGCE

Mr B Appleby, BA (Canterbury), PGCE

Year 7/8 Coordinator

Abby is a KS2 teacher, form tutor and Year 5 and 6 Co-ordinator. She joined Ardingly College Prep School in September 2016 having taught for 6 years in the state sector, where she developed her curriculum knowledge as a Year 6 teacher, and her leadership skills as both Head of English and Head of Year 5 and 6, whilst completing a Middle Leadership qualification.

Abby thoroughly enjoys the Performing Arts and creates the choreography for both the Lower and Upper Prep School annual productions. She also enjoys sport and taking teams to match day events. Abby has taken an active role in developing the Shaping My World program for the Prep School. She enjoys helping children learn how to become independent whilst acquiring new skills and behaviours, in order for them to be happy and succeed in a range of opportunities.