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.’
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.
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.
She is married to Greg, a marketing and sales manager, and they have three children, Evie, Georgia and Henry. Nicola has enjoyed many roles within the College, including Assistant Housemistress, Head of Mathematics and her most recent appointment of Assistant Head (Middle School). “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.”
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.
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.
Luke Walters joined Ardingly College in 2015 as Housemaster of Hilton House, having previously been the founding Housemaster at Marlborough College Malaysia. He has worked in full boarding, day and international schools, although his formative experiences as a teacher were at Marlborough College, Wiltshire. He read English Literature at Exeter before taking his MA in Shakespeare and has been involved in coaching rugby, football, netball, athletics and fives. His interests range from American Literature to travel, particularly in Australasia and South East Asia. Luke enjoys the international element of boarding at Ardingly and the unique variety that the experience provides for its students.
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.
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.”
Head of Pre-Prep and Year 1 Teacher, Hilary Nawrocka joined Ardingly College in 2009. Prior to her role at the College she taught in both state and private schools in Haywards Heath, and before that she had a career as a radiographer and senior university lecturer in London.
“Reading and Science are my passions. The Pre-Prep is very strong in reading and I am passionate about children becoming literate in Science. I feel it is one of the most important ways that we can ensure they are prepared, and able, to make informed choices in the modern world. I love the children. Their kindness, generosity and enthusiasm makes me smile every day and gives me great hope for the future of society.”
Nicola Smart joined Ardingly College in 2010 to set up and lead the first HR function at the College. She is an experienced HR professional, having held leadership roles at Accenture and BT, as well as running her own HR consultancy business, working with a range of companies to improve their policies, procedures, contractual matters and advising on organisation structural change. Nicola studied Psychology and Sociology at Leeds University and continued at Leeds Business School to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Personnel Management. She is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (Chartered MCIPD). Nicola is married to Tony, a Marketing and Communications Associate Director at Accenture. They have three children: Rebecca, Kieran, and Lucy, who attends Ardingly College. Nicola believes the success of any school lies in the quality of the teaching and the staff employed. She says: “Ardingly is a thriving school and we are lucky enough to have over 400 talented and committed people, working either directly with our students in the classroom, or behind the scenes keeping the school functioning effectively in our Grounds, Maintenance, Catering, Domestic and Administration teams. It’s my role to help Ardingly attract, recruit and retain top quality talented staff, and to ensure that the College continues to adhere to the very highest standards in its employment practices.”
Tracey qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant in 1992 and throughout her career she has worked in the not-for-profit sectors of health and education. Although she began her career in finance, she has led a range of operational departments including Human Resources, IT, Premises, Management Information Systems and Marketing, and was a key member of the project team for a £40 million project to rebuild a brand new, state-of-the-art sixth form college. In her role before joining Ardingly as Financial Controller, she led Shared Services for a large college for young people with learning disabilities and a growing multi-academy trust.
Tracey has three children – Josi, a tax accountant with KPMG, Nik, a primary school teacher and Ryan who is in the Senior School at Ardingly College. Tracey has taken up golf in her free time.
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”
Mr B Appleby, BA (Canterbury), PGCE
Year 7/8 Coordinator
Catherine joined Ardingly in 2013 as a Year 4 Teacher. She was previously teaching at Lambrook School in Berkshire. During her time at Ardingly, Catherine has been the ICT Coordinator and the Year 3 and 4 Coordinator. She currently runs the Prep School Boarding House and thoroughly enjoys spending time with the pupils in house and creating a relaxed, home from home atmosphere. She is also the Head of Pupil and Staff Welfare and Development. Catherine is married to Aaron, a Deputy Head, and they both share a love for fencing. Catherine takes an active role in the school’s fencing programme and is also a keen singer.
Mrs Abigail Palma, BA (Herts), PGCE
Year 5/6 Coordinator