Meet our Teachers
“The rapport between teachers and their pupils is extremely positive, enabling the teaching to be purposeful, effective and enjoyable.”
“Teaching is excellent.”
Independent Schools' Inspectorate, February 2015
Ms Tina Abbaticola - Teacher of English as a Foreign Language
Ms Abbaticola joined Cobham Hall in 2014 after a long history of teaching English as a Foreign Language. In fact, she started teaching in colleges and schools both in Essex and London.
In 1995 she decided to study for a degree in Communication studies with Linguistics, with a view to working as a journalist.
However, a local school asked her to be their Head of Drama and English, so she was appointed, where she continued studying for her qualified teacher status.
After teaching in to two other secondary schools in Essex, and both her children leaving home to study for their degrees, she felt it was time to travel a little. Therefore, she accepted a post as a mentor to a princess, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Continuing her travels to Italy, she made her home in Parma, teaching in various schools and then Lecce – opposite ends of the country, working as Director of Studies for a language school. With her daughter, a professional DJ and singer, living in England, and her son, a Mastering and Sound Engineer in Berlin, the family travelled around Europe frequently to see each other.
Last year, Ms Abbaticola returned to Essex and soon after was appointed as a part-time EFL teacher at Cobham Hall.
Miss Sarah Boyle - Teacher of Drama
Miss Boyle holds a Master’s degree in Drama and Theatre Studies from the University of Kent, specialising in Directing during her fourth year of study. Prior to her degree, she trained at The BRIT Performing Arts and Technology School for four years, performing in a number of productions and gaining work experience in casting and performance at various Theatre venues in London.
After her degree, she stage managed several productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; directed Youth Theatre and trained in Secondary Drama and English Education through Canterbury Christ Church University and the Graduate Teacher Programme. Prior to joining Cobham Hall, she was Head of Drama in two other Kent schools and also has several years’ experience as an Assistant Housemistress for Girls in Year 7 – 11. During this time, she completed her Post-Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Care through Roehampton University and Boarding Schools Association.
Miss Boyle has taken students on trips ranging from Stratford upon Avon to Taipei in Taiwan. She knows of the magic that can take place outside of the classroom and enjoys taking students on a broad range of theatre trips to develop knowledge of repertoire, style and form.
She has directed a number of different productions including ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘Seussical’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Our House’ as well a broad range of non-musical productions such as ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘The Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, ‘Bronte’ and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’ She also has over eight years’ experience of preparing students for their LAMDA Grade Examinations in Communication and is an examiner for the board.
Some of her favourite activities include cooking, going to see comedy, dance and theatre (of course) and spoiling her lovely British Blue cat, Evie. Miss Boyle is enjoying living in Cobham Hall’s beautiful grounds and is looking forward to being invited to more pizza nights with the Boarders!
Mr Nigel Bushnell - Teacher of History
Mr Bushnell studied for his BA in History at the University of York. After a very brief spell working in the Civil Service he decided to enter teaching and returned to university to complete a PGCE. He then taught for twenty-five years in various London comprehensive schools. He also became a senior GCSE History examiner and has written several GCSE and A level History textbooks.
He now combines part-time teaching at Cobham Hall with senior examining work and leading A level and GCSE History study tours to Germany and Poland. He also does some occasional work in training History teachers at the Institute of Education, University of London.
Mr Bushnell enjoys the challenge of making his students think critically about the past. He finds the various global perspectives that many of Cobham Hall’s students bring to the classroom particularly interesting. He is often impressed by the girls’ knowledge of current affairs and how they often try relate their study of the past to contemporary events.
In his spare time he enjoys socialising with friends, visits to the cinema and travelling. He is currently becoming obsessed with American history which he uses as a convenient excuse to justify holidays to the USA. At some point in the future he would like study History at postgraduate level but perhaps that ambition may have to wait until retirement!
Mrs Sue Carney - Teacher of Physical Education
Growing up, it appears Mrs Carney excelled at virtually any sport she tried. She played netball for Kent and was a reserve for the South East England team. She also threw Javelin for the county, was in the Kent Premier Division for Hockey and was the Medway Tennis Champion in both singles and doubles for several years running.
She combined her love of sport with a preference for the outdoors and a desire to work with children by undertaking a BEd (Hons) in Physical Education and Geography at Exeter University.
Mrs Carney joined Cobham Hall in 2008 as a PE teacher and has recently taken up the post of Senior Tutor for Middle School. She enjoys the work ethic of girls at Cobham who put their heart and soul into their sport and work hard to go above and beyond. She admires their collective determination not to let their peers down – an essential part of successful (and enjoyable) team sports.
Away from school, Mrs Carney is usually too busy being the taxi driver for her own three budding athletes to have much time to do sport herself. However, whenever she has the chance she loves to get her bicycle out for a spot of road cycling or mountain bike riding.
Miss Jessica Caro Quintana - Teacher of Spanish
Spanish born and raised, Miss Caro moved to England in 2007. She graduated with a BSc in English from the University of Valencia in Spain (spending a year of her degree studying at the University of Leicester in England) and completed a PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages at University College Marjon in Plymouth. Miss Caro completed her NQT year teaching Spanish and French at another independent school in Kent before joining Cobham Hall as a Spanish teacher in 2009. A year later, Miss Caro also took on the role of Round Square Representative for the School.
Miss Caro’s interest for languages started at age four, when while visiting a zoo, she met another girl she could not understand. Upset because she did not know what the girl was saying, Miss Caro inquisitively asked her parents for an explanation. They explained that people in other countries speak other languages. She then asked her parents for lessons to understand the girl and a month later, she started English lessons with a tutor. The first question Miss Caro asked her tutor was what ‘rabbit’ meant, the only word she could remember the girl saying.
Having studied English from such a young age and having two mother-tongues herself, she chose to become a Languages teacher in order to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for different countries and cultures with young people. She was keen to show them how different languages and cultures can play an important role in people’s lives just as they have played in hers. She also believes that tolerance comes from knowing and accepting the world and a good way of beginning to do this is by learning from others and promoting internationalism, a very important part of the Round Square ethos which underpins Cobham Hall’s values.
Not being used to the British weather and always feeling cold here, on a rainy day Miss Caro likes snuggling up with a blanket on the sofa and reading a fiction novel or watching a good movie (popcorn not optional!). But she also enjoys making jewellery, which she sells for charity, cooking, walking, practicing Pilates and taking dancing lessons in all different styles.
To escape the rain, she loves travelling around the world and tries to do so at any chance she has, having visited more than 40 countries. She combines this hobby with that of photography having an array of pictures of architecture, landscapes and people from around the world.
Ms Penny Clements - Head of Music
Head of Music Ms Clements has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Trinity College of Music. She studied piano and voice and specialised in choral conducting, jazz arrangement and music education. After teaching Piano at Reading School, she went on to complete her PGCE at the University of Reading where she sang with the University Chamber choir and toured Europe as an accompanist and singer. Ms Clements has taught Music in all three International Baccalaureate Programmes (the Primary, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes), and has previously worked as a Curriculum Coordinator.
Ms Clements began to play the piano at the age of six, and was focused on going to a Conservatoire by 16. However, after years of dedicated hours of practice and performing the classics, Ms Clements’ favourite part about being a musician is what she calls “musicing” – just being spontaneous, making music and having fun. It is not unusual to hear the theme tune to Thomas the Tank Engine or Wallace and Gromit wafting from the windows of the Music Wing. It is this element of music-making she loves to share with her students; music is not about judging, perfection or fear of failure, nor is it for the few; music is for everyone, is about having fun, being in the moment and sharing in a common goal.
When she is not being noisy with a choir, a piano or her guitar, Ms Clements is a water baby and dabbles in water polo, competes in open-water swimming, and recently swam the equivalent length of the English Channel in her local swimming pool to raise £500 for Diabetes UK.
She also really, REALLY likes Haribo.
Mr Kevin Eyers - Teacher of Information and Communication Technology
Mr Eyers Joined Cobham Hall in Spring 2014.
He studied electronic engineering at college but also learnt about computing as a hobby, although at the time he did not really intend to become a teacher.
After leaving college, he started as an IT apprentice at a local art college – Kent Institute of Art & Design, now UCA. Within just a few years, he progressed to managing the whole ICT infrastructure for the campus. It was then suggested to him by other teachers that he had the qualities to be a teacher. He starting teaching part-time at UCA and he loved it.
Working with students and staff in the areas of fashion, design, architecture, computer graphics and photography to name a few, he picked up a lot of new skills along the way. He also worked within the ‘digifab’ department using the latest in 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies.
After doing some consultancy work for Cobham Hall on behalf of UCA, he decided he really liked the school and thought it would be nice to teach there one day. About a year later and there he was!
He thinks Cobham has a great working environment for staff as well as a brilliant learning environment for the pupils. He says all the girls are very nice and well-behaved and were very kind to him in his early days at Cobham (they still are).
In his spare time he is learning photography, plays guitar, goes on country walks and always enjoys expanding his knowledge on anything ICT.
Mr Jonathan Fryer - Head of Science Faculty
Mr Fryer has found inspiration to teach from his own Biology teacher, his love of nature, and how children constantly make him question how he sees the world. He is the Head of Science and specialises in teaching Biology. He studied Biological Sciences at Leicester University, obtaining a BSc (Hons) degree. He went on to obtain his PGCE and, while working as a teacher, a distinction in a Master’s degree in Education. He believes that by studying Biology, young people learn important lessons for life.
Mr Fryer loves walking his Havanese dog, taking photographs and, somewhat unsurprisingly, photographing his Havanese dog! He has also recently developed an interest in photographing birds. He spends time down at his allotment, enjoying the delights of fresh strawberries and raspberries (if only his dog would help with the weeding!).
With its beautiful valleys and lonely hilltops, his favourite place on Earth is the Yorkshire Dales and his favourite walk is the 83 mile Dales Way. Having said that, he recommends standing on the rim of Bryce Canyon, USA – unforgettable.
He believes that travel can broaden one’s horizons, but also believes that people should focus on being content at home as opposed to constantly seeking something new elsewhere.
Mrs Patricia Gough - Teacher of Communications Skills
Mrs Gough began her professional career as a model at the tender age of four. This was a short lived occupation – upon discovering that she did not get to keep the clothes she refused to smile for the camera.
A passion for dance dominated her life until a local drama course ignited an obsession with theatre and good writing. She left school too young for university but with a few A levels and was sent to secretarial college. University followed and in a curious ‘volte-face’ she gained a commission in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Whilst serving as a Public Relations Officer her career spanned the years which included The Falklands War and she continues to reflect on her work in the news media during those years. During this time she wrote for a number of specialised publications including Navy News and Jane’s Defence Weekly.
On completion of her commission a career in teaching continued to beckon and she has worked as a Head of Department in a number of schools in both the independent and state sectors. Taking a career break in 1999 she returned to the theatre and worked as an actor, director and choreographer in the North West of England including a spell as an Artist in Residence with the Chinese Women’s Community Theatre in Manchester. She returned to Kent to head up a Performing Arts Department at an independent school in Sevenoaks.
Joining Cobham Hall in September 2009, she is passionate about her work in Drama, Voice and Communication skills at the school and is thrilled to be co-ordinating the Theory of Knowledge course for the International Baccalaureate. Outside teaching she retains a passion for the work of the Armed Forces, a love of anything with paws and an obsession with the arts. Mrs Gough is married and she and her husband have three children between them – and two dogs!
Mr Matthew Haas - Piano and Voice Tutor
Mr Haas joined Cobham Hall in Autumn 2013. He has a BA in General Music Studies from Milligan College, Tennessee USA, where he studied piano, accompaniment, voice, conducting, and music education. Once he relocated to London, he received a Master of Music in Performance and Related Studies (Goldsmiths, University of London) where he studied voice and operatic technique.
Mr Haas is originally from the USA. He began studying music at the age of 7 and realised he had a talent for it. Throughout his early years, he worked as a church pianist, played clarinet in the school band, sung in multiple choirs and even played a little country fiddle (he is from Tennessee after all!).
Once Mr Haas finished his BA degree in 2009 he relocated to the UK for his Masters degree. During this time he sang at different venues and events across London and the UK. After he completed his Masters, he went on to sing with OperaGold, Goldsmiths College’s opera company, and has started his own group called Operesque, specialising in Cabaret-style opera.
When Mr Haas isn’t hard at work at Cobham Hall or with his music, he enjoys travelling, spending time with friends, reading a good book, going to the cinema, and running marathons.
Mrs Kelly-Ann Hickmott - Teacher of Psychology
Mrs Hickmott joined Cobham Hall in 2010 as a Psychology teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Middlesex University which is recognised by the British Psychology Society. Over the years she has worked with a number of charitable organisations assisting with counselling and supporting young people.
Mrs Hickmott strongly believes that through the study of psychology, students gain an understanding of the complex mental process that dictate human behaviour. She passionately believes the academic study of psychology has enabled her to increase her effectiveness in communication and enhanced her understanding of others.
Mrs Hickmott enjoys seeing her pupils’ develop their academic skills and seeing their confidence flourish in class room discussions and debates.
Mrs Radhika Hillier - Teacher in Student Support Department
Mrs Hillier works in the Student Support Department providing one to one learning support to students and specialising in Mathematics. She also assists students with revision and study skills.
Mrs Hillier began her teaching career as a primary school class teacher following her BA degree in Education and Mathematics from Exeter University and has nearly 20 years’ teaching experience. She has always enjoyed Mathematics and is fascinated by the way in which numbers behave. In her teaching of students of all ages, Mrs Hillier’s aim is always to make the full range of mathematical experience accessible and enjoyable to students of all abilities. She has recently passed the Counselling Skills Certificate CPCAB Level 2, and is preparing for Level 3.
Mrs Hillier regularly supports students at Cobham Hall in their spiritual life by forging links with local faith groups and activities, including transporting students to church on Sundays. These activities have proved especially popular with the boarding students.
Mrs Hiller enjoys creative arts and needlework, spending time with her family, and is also an accredited lay preacher and worship leader in her local church.
Mrs Kelli Hooper - Head of Physical Education
Mrs Hooper grew up in the local area – she was educated in Medway and has a teaching degree from Greenwich University. Following her degree, she taught in both mixed and single sex schools before starting at Cobham Hall as Head of Physical Education in 2007. Mrs Hooper loves the grounds and environment so much that she chose to hold her wedding at Cobham Hall in 2008.
Mrs Hooper has a passion for netball and played for the county at age 17. While she thoroughly enjoyed this experience, due to the huge time commitment, she had to choose between her two sporting passions, netball and eventing.
Mrs Hooper has ridden since the age of 7 and still competes regularly in British Eventing competitions on her horse named “It’s a Mugs Game”, or Muggy as he is usually known. Apart from netball and riding, Mrs Hooper has many other hobbies including dancing, skiing, playing the piano (badly, she thinks!) and spending precious time with her family and friends.
Mrs Hooper now has two adorable children, Oscar and Matilda, who take up much of her time although she still tries very hard to make time for sport.
She thoroughly enjoys driving into the Cobham Hall grounds and cherishes the many happy memories she has already made at Cobham – the Borneo expedition, the ski trip to Austria and the netball and hockey tour to South Africa are just a few to mention so far!
Mr Peter Hosford - Teacher of Physics
Mr Hosford gained a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Thames Polytechnic more years ago than he cares to remember. He went to work for a company called ERA technology in the Cables and Accessories Department spending many a happy year blowing cables up and performing bizarre experiments such as submerging high voltage power cables in a swimming pool for six months to see how they survived in a hostile environment. When the time came for a job change, he went to work for BICC Supertension Cables and became a Quality Engineer responsible for the drying and mass impregnation of paper insulation EHT cables. He assures people that this job description makes plenty of sense to those who actually do the job.
Factory life did not suit him so a full career change was called for. Homerton College, Cambridge accepted him to study a PGCE in Physics and Mathematics. This led him back to his old school, St. George’s Church of England Comprehensive, where he was still involved with the technical side of their Drama Department, to join the Science Department as an NQT.
Seventeen years later, having taught Physics to A Level, Biology, Chemistry, ICT and Mathematics to GCSE, and with a small excursion into Technology for Years 7, 8 and 9, it was time for a change of scene – luckily Cobham Hall appeared on the horizon and the rest, as they say, is history!
Mr Andrew Kirkaldy - Teacher of Chemistry
Mr Kirkaldy was born in Crawley, West Sussex and studied Chemistry at Swansea University. His love of Chemistry was inspired by who he describes as “an amazing teacher” during his school years who really opened his eyes up to what an astounding science chemistry is. After discovering his chosen career path as a research chemist wasn’t for him, he completed his PGCE at Southampton University in 1997.
Having taught in four different schools in Canterbury and Medway, Mr Kirkaldy’s favourite quote is “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you”.
He’s married with three children, two girls and a boy; his favourite being whichever one is behaving! He lists his loves as all things sci-fi and horror (preferably together!), Chemistry (unashamedly geeky!), students who think Chemistry is the best science (none of that Biology witchcraft!), people with a wicked sense of humour, and Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club (unfortunately!)
Ms Julia Konec - Head of Student Support
Ms Konec’s motto both professionally and personally has always been that, “you never stop learning” and this has been reflected in her varied career path. Training as a State Registered Nurse at Guy’s Hospital in the early Eighties, moving into drug research, doing a degree in English and Drama at Goldsmith’s College and eventually a PGCE, becoming a Head of Drama and a Second in Department for English, a learning mentor, a TA, doing some therapy training and raising a family have all enhanced her life experience and it is this rich diversity she brings to her work at Cobham Hall.
Ms Konec has taught in a range of different schools both within the State and Independent sectors. As well as her first degree, she has two further specialist qualifications that are nationally recognised to teach and assess students with specific learning difficulties.
Ms Konec believes strongly that we all have learning differences, only that in those identified as having special educational needs, theirs are more apparent. It is our role as teachers to explore the most appropriate strategies to support these students in their learning. Ms Konec believes that if a student is struggling to learn a new concept, then one adapts one’s teaching to suit how they learn best.
One of her roles, she believes, is to explore this with her students. She has never met a student, who once given the most appropriate tools, does not want to learn. She has a passion for promoting the emotional wellbeing of all and in her spare time enjoys spending time with her family, walking her Spanish Waterdog Lola, reading, running, swimming, meditating and most important of all, relaxing.
Miss Katharine Lambert - Teacher of Physical Education, Theory of Knowledge and Geography
Miss Lambert joined Cobham Hall in 2009 as a PE teacher. She has a BSc (Honours) in Sports and Exercise Sciences from Gloucestershire University and later completed her PGCE in Secondary Physical Education at Canterbury Christchurch. She has worked across all Year groups teaching PE, Sports Leadership, GCSE and A Level PE. She has also been a Housemistress for Years 10, 11, 12 and 13. She has taken girls on school trips to South Africa and, a little closer to home, to the outdoor adventure camp PGL.
These days, Miss Lambert has expanded her teaching repertoire further, and in addition to PE, she now teaches Geography, Theory of Knowledge and PSHE. She is also the CAS Co-ordinator, and Cobham Hall’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Leader.
Watching her pupils overcoming challenges and achieve in areas they used to find impossible is one of Miss Lambert’s greatest pleasures as a teacher. She also appreciates the school’s beautiful surroundings – her first view of the school as she makes her way down the sweeping drive still takes her breath away on a daily basis – and she loves teaching PE in such extensive grounds.
Miss Lambert describes herself as organised to a fault and is known for her ruthless ability to clean out her office. She is possibly the only teacher who has an equal love of teaching and paperwork. She has a passion for making films about Sports at Cobham and her films about the Sports Tour to South Africa in 2011 as well as a review of Sport at Cobham Hall in 2011-12 have been enjoyed by the whole school community.
Miss Lambert enjoys playing a variety of sports, including tennis, badminton, squash and lacrosse. She also enjoys walks in the countryside, travelling all over the world. She has recently completed a series of physical challenges: walking long-distance UK National Trails during her holidays.
Ms Andrea Lockheart - Teacher of Art
Originally from Chicago, Ms Lockheart studied Art and Design at Illinois State University. Having had a creative interest in Art from a young age she attended the Evanston Art Center and SAIC (The School of the Art Institute Chicago).
After gaining her BA degree in 1981, she worked in the commercial sector as a Graphic Artist in Chicago and later in London after relocating to the UK in 1985, working in a small design studio in Camden Town.
In the early 1990s she decided to become a teacher and gained her PGCE from Goldsmiths College in London. Ms Lockheart has taught Art and Design for the past 20 years, predominantly in grammar schools, teaching both boys and girls separately and in mixed groups.
She thoroughly enjoys helping students to further their creative potential. She believes that students’ artwork develops as they make informed realisations about their own work, by seeing and experiencing art through gallery visits, by learning and discovering new techniques and skills in the studio and by continuing to deepen the way they see the world.
Dr Pamela Marin - Teacher in Charge of Latin
Dr Marin was born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Fascinated by the ancient world during her undergraduate studies, she received an MA in History from New York University. At Wadham College, Oxford, Pamela read for an M.Phil in Ancient History and later completed her PhD at University College, Dublin. She is the author of Blood in the Forum: The Struggle for the Roman Republic (Bloomsbury, 2009) and is contemplating another book eventually, but is just too busy at the moment.
Dr Marin taught previously at both university and within the secondary sector; although she just recently came to Cobham Hall, she is continuing the lively and unique approach to Latin with projects such as Roman Come Dine with Me, building a small-scale villa with the Year 7s, teaching Senex MacDonald habuit fundum to Year 8s and the traditional Year 9 chocolate Roman road (with an attempt at marshmallow-wafer aqueducts as well!). At GCSE and IB, she offers a bit of Roman history and culture alongside the Latin language and literature, so that students leave with a greater appreciation of why the Romans were amazing and that Latin matters.
Some of her favourite activities include knitting and making crafty items (and as a Lower School Tutor, teaching her students how to knit!) but the majority of her time at home is spent chasing after her toddler, watching Shaun the Sheep, and making sure that the cat is safe (from the toddler!). She and her husband live near Cobham and are enjoying the Kent countryside after living in Ireland for many years.
Mrs Martine Martin - Teacher of Mathematics
Mrs Martin was born in Rochester and attended Rochester Girls Grammar School during the 1970s. She thoroughly enjoyed her childhood, being bought up with a Jazz-playing father and a large family of four girls, who were very much into sports. During her school years she played netball for the county and also attended a local Dance School eventually training to teach Ballet, Tap and Modern dance. After school she studied Mathematics and Sports Science at Loughborough University. Whilst there she represented the British Universities Netball team and toured the British Isles and Canada. She also went on to play for England as a Goal Shooter for four years.
After University she returned to Kent and took up a Mathematics and Physical Education teaching job at Stratford House School in Bickley. A short time later she was married with children on the way. It was after the birth of her first son that she had a call from the Deputy Headmistress of Cobham Hall to help out as a maternity leave cover teacher – and she is still here after 28 years! While she has worked in both the PE and Mathematics departments, she now teaches part-time Mathematics following the birth of her grandson and the retirement of her husband.
Over the years her hobbies have continued to be sporting, although she now plays golf rather than netball. Her interest in Jazz continues with her husband playing piano in a local Jazz band. She is also very keen on holidaying in warmer climates and she and her husband have recently bought a small place in Tenerife to escape to in the holiday periods. She is looking forward to more grandchildren from her three children and to a time when she can make her visits to Tenerife a little longer!
Mrs Xing-Wei McArthur - Teacher of Chinese
Graduating in 1982 from the Science, Economics and Technology University of China where she specialised in English Language and Literature, Mrs McArthur moved to England in 1989. She qualified as a teacher in 1995 gaining her PGCE from Christ Church University College, Canterbury, and has been teaching ever since. She has taught a wide range of age groups across all the key stages of the curriculum.
Having started her teaching career as a primary school teacher working with nursery and infant children, she was delighted at the opportunity to teach Mandarin Chinese as demand for the subject has grown. She is incredibly proud of her heritage and enjoys not only teaching the intricacies of the language itself but also engaging her students in discussions regarding Chinese culture, music, history and philosophy.
She returns to China each year and maintains a strong network of fellow Mandarin teachers, thus enabling her to constantly update her teaching methods in this fast growing subject and develop new techniques for delivering one of the most difficult languages in the word.
Though Chinese born and bred, Mrs McArthur adores English culture and tradition and has enthusiastically integrated into British society. When she is not giving her students lots of fun Chinese homework, she can be found reading, singing, Scottish dancing or growing vegetables in her garden.
Mrs Rebecca Keys - Teacher in Charge of Geography
Mrs Keys completed her education in Maidstone, where she grew up and discovered her love of Geography through her GCSEs and A levels. Between her AS and A2 examinations, she was able to complete a world challenge to Guyana and it was during this that she realised she wanted to take every opportunity to explore and learn more about the world around her.
She chose to go to Plymouth University to complete her BA degree in Geography because it was a fantastic vibrant city with the sea on the doorstep! She thoroughly enjoyed her time there and started the first Geography Society, which grew with huge success. She also volunteered to mentor students from disadvantaged areas to help raise their aspirations and soon knew that teaching children was the career for her.
She gained a place on a graduate teacher training programme, and was employed by Maidstone Girls Grammar. After completing her GTP, she started at Newstead Wood school and taught Geography, Philosophy and Ethics of Religion for seven years. She was the Director of Learning, and looked after Years 10 and 11, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Joining Cobham Hall in September 2015 as Teacher in Charge of Geography, she cannot wait to get all the students as enthusiastic about Geography as she is!
In the summer of 2015, she was lucky enough to complete an expedition to Borneo and work with the people there, as well as see orang-utans in the wild. As well as expeditions, her interests include music, dance, skiing, and travelling.
Mr Michael Pattison - Teacher of Mathematics and Economics
As a student, Mr Pattison always wanted to travel and his favourite subjects at school were Mathematics and Geography. To satisfy these needs he decided to pursue a BSc in Land Surveying Sciences at the University of East London and a postgraduate Diploma in Cartography at the University of Glasgow.
Straight after graduating he moved to Jamaica where he practised land surveying and lectured at the University of Technology. After 13 years he moved to Guyana where, as a Chartered Land Surveyor, he spent several years managing a topographical mapping project for the British Government. This was followed by a four year appointment at the University of Botswana as a senior lecturer in Land Surveying, Photogrammetry and Cartography.
Since returning to the UK, Mr Pattison has started and managed two small businesses and taught Business Studies and Tourism at a variety of tertiary colleges in London and Kent. More recently he has become a secondary school teacher of Mathematics, Economics and Business Studies. He has two Masters Degrees, one in International Relations, the other in International Tourism Policy, and PGCE qualifications.
When not at work, Mr Pattison enjoys travelling, current affairs and most sports, particularly cycling and squash. He returns to Jamaica several times a year where he is associated with an orphanage run by the Missionaries of the Poor. In 2014 and 2016, Mr Pattison took a group of students to Jamaica to do voluntary work at the orphanage.
Mrs Tahiry Russell - Teacher of French
Mrs Russell was born in Madagascar. When she was five, her family moved to France where she completed her education.
She remembers enjoying her language lessons very much at school (she learned German and English) and she was really thrilled to go to Boston Latin Academy on a school exchange programme at the age of 14. She decided to continue studying English at the University of Paris La Sorbonne and achieved a BA in English and American Literature and Culture, as well as Linguistics.
Following this she received a scholarship to go to Texas, USA, as a French exchange student. She made the most of her gap year at Baylor University, enjoying the warm weather as well as trying new subjects and making many international friends. Upon returning to France she began to study for a Masters in French. She was selected on a partnership programme between the University of Lancaster and Paris V where she was studying at the time. That same year, she qualified for a PGCE in Modern Languages and obtained a Masters in French.
Originally she anticipated a temporary stay in England until she met her husband. Both her and her husband are very open to foreign cultures and were planning to spend a year teaching in China before discovering a family was on the way. She now has three girls whom she is working hard to raise bilingually.
Coming to Cobham Hall has been a wonderful and unique experience for Mrs Russell who loves to see so many different nationalities in one place.
Besides teaching, Mrs Russell singing, swimming and Zumba. She also likes to worship in her church using banners and prophetic dancing. In her spare time, Mrs Russell likes to paint and write. Her poems have been published in ‘Faith, Hope and Triumph’, an anthology of testimonies of Women of City Praise Centre. She has recently had more poems and prose writing published in the second volume of this anthology, in which she shares personla stories of her journey of faith.
Miss Jane Stevens - Teacher of English
Miss Stevens has a Degree in English Literature and a PGCE from Hull University. She entered teaching as she was able to combine her love of literature with her desire to work with young people. She has taught for over 30 years in a variety of establishments including comprehensive schools, grammar schools and the English School in Nicosia, Cyprus.
As well as being Head of Department, in schools she worked in before joining Cobham Hall, Miss Stevens has also been a Head of Year, a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and the person in charge of Additional Educational Needs. In the past, her work at Cobham Hall included monitoring the provision offered to students who are talented and gifted.
Her favourite writers include Thomas Hardy, Emily Bronte, Marilynne Robinson, John Keats and, of course, the students whom she teaches!
Mrs Melissa Thompson - Teacher of Environmental Systems and Societies, and Biology
Mrs Thompson gained a BSc (Hons) degree from Queen Mary, University of London, in Marine and Freshwater Biology. After spending her undergraduate years knee (and occasionally thigh) deep in water, sand, and mud, Mrs Thompson entered the world of London’s financial markets. Itchy feet and the desire to re-connect with the ocean soon saw her toting a backpack around the world with her sister.
A few years and numerous adrenaline sports later – bungee jumping, sky diving, white water rafting, and scuba diving to name but a few – Mrs Thompson returned home and completed her Post Graduate Certificate in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University with a view to travelling and teaching abroad. However, Cupid struck, and Mrs Thompson found herself married with two amazing children.
Mrs Thompson loves the inquisitive minds of young people and enjoys the constant challenge of their questions as they seek to develop their understanding of the world around them and their place in it. She loves the multicultural aspect of Cobham Hall and feels that she too can learn from the girls, about their cultures and traditions: travelling without leaving the classroom.
As well as teaching Biology and Environmental Systems and Societies, in September 2015 Mrs Thompson also took on the role of Assistant Head of Sixth Form.
Away from Cobham Hall Mrs Thompson spends her free time with her family sharing the delights of travelling, camping, reading and the occasional adrenaline sport!
Mrs Brigitte Tismer - Teacher of German
Mrs Tismer grew up in Dresden, in the former GDR, and was thirteen when the country re-unified with West Germany. Growing up initially in a country where travelling was very restricted made her very keen to visit as many countries as possible in subsequent years. She eagerly took part in school and university trips to other European cities such as Brussels, Vienna and also travelled to Israel. On one fateful journey to Berlin she met a young History teacher from London and decided that she would follow him to live and study in Britain.
In London, at Queen Mary University, she developed a love for language and literature. After graduating with a degree in German and European Studies (and marrying the aforementioned History teacher), Mrs Tismer moved to Kent and taught in several girls’ grammar schools in the county.
She joined Cobham Hall in 2014. Here she teaches the IB German “Language A” programme. Outside school Mrs Tismer still enjoys travelling, including frequent trips to Germany, reading, playing tunes on her accordion, and watching football. In addition to watching the games of her daughter, who plays football for Maidstone and Kent County, she also closely follows, thanks to the Internet, the exploits of her home town’s team.
Mrs Catherine von Bredow - Head of the Languages Faculty
Mrs von Bredow was born in Devon and has lived in Kent since 1996. After studying English and French, she took a Masters Degree in Linguistics before deciding to specialise in EFL. Having married a German in 1982, Mrs von Bredow lived in Germany for several years, where she taught English on a freelance basis.
She has brought up three bilingual children and continues to be fascinated by languages and language learning. Apart from her work in Germany, she has taught in several other countries, including Mexico and France. She has also taught in a variety of schools in the United Kingdom and has been Head of EFL at Cobham Hall since September 2011.
Given the paramount importance of the English language in the modern world and the global economy, Mrs von Bredow sees the teaching of EFL at Cobham Hall as a great opportunity to empower all overseas students in the school towards taking their own place in that world.
Mrs von Bredow speaks French, German and some Spanish. She enjoys living in the country and has a keen interest in classical music.
Mrs Karen Walsh - Head of Arts Faculty
Mrs Walsh has a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and has been engaged in art practice, teaching art in schools and Further and Higher Education institutions, since 1987.
She has taught a wide range of Art courses in a variety of disciplines from Year 7 to degree level and has worked as an arts examiner for the Edexcel examination board for over 10 years. Mrs Walsh has taught at Cobham Hall since 1998.
Mrs Walsh enjoys sharing her expertise and extensive subject knowledge with her students and gets great satisfaction from supporting and encouraging girls at all levels of ability to exceed their expectations.
Mrs Walsh believes that students should be given the opportunity to have a sound underpinning knowledge of the terms of the visual language and that learning in art provides students with a way of perceiving themselves and the world, which is essential to their education. This visual understanding deepens their creative awareness by enhancing the imagination and intensifying ideas, feelings and sensitivities.
Miss Francesca West - Teacher of English and Film Studies
Miss West graduated from Reading University in 2007 with a BA in Film, Theatre and Television Studies. She spent her last two years focusing particularly on film making and film theory, producing several of her own projects. After completing a PGCE at Canterbury Christchurch University, Miss West went back to her old school, Rochester Grammar, to teach English, Media and Film Studies.
Miss West is a patron of the arts and enjoys anything creative or theatrical: she is currently writing a children’s novel, painting a piece for the National Portrait Awards and helping run Cookery Club (but not all at once!). She wishes she was good at music, but despite learning for three years, she has never gone beyond Grade Two of the saxophone.
Family plays a very important role in Miss West’s life and, as such, she even works at the school with her sister, the other Miss West. She has another sister who lives in Italy, where the whole family like to reside in the holidays.
Critiquing and making films is one of her greatest passions and she is thoroughly enjoying teaching the filmic tradition to International Baccalaureate students at Cobham Hall. She also feels privileged to be able to work in an environment which is so culturally diverse, yet rich in tradition.
Ms Julia West - Head of English Faculty
Miss West read a degree in Modern History at Queen’s College, Oxford which included the specialism Literature and Politics in Early Modern England. Whilst studying at Oxford she was president of the Eglesfield Players Drama society, performing as Maria in a spoof version of The Sound of Music and as a ‘Jet Girl’ in West Side Story. As well as loving creative performance, it was people that fascinated her most; how they acted, what they felt, and how they expressed themselves. This influenced her decision to transfer to English and Drama for her PGCE at Sheffield University.
As well as teaching in several schools in the United Kingdom, Miss West has also worked in an international school in Cairo, Egypt, which was situated on an island called Zamalek in the middle of the Nile. This was a formative experience and reaffirmed her belief that travel does indeed broaden the mind – not least with the excitement of living in such an exotic and historic place! Working with a student body from all over the world was a joy, and, for her, this is also one of the great attractions of working at Cobham Hall.
Although she is a big fan of Oscar Wilde, she would like to refute his sentiment: “Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.” Whether taking jewellery classes, writing poems, acquiring a property portfolio or trying every kind of dancing (tap; ballet; foxtrot; samba; lindy hop or belly); she is always seeking to learn new things as well as to teach them.
Her greatest ambition and fulfilment in teaching is to inspire students to question, to challenge assumption, to use their imaginations and to think for themselves. Although she hopes her students will always value her opinion, she considers her teaching to be truly successful when her students no longer need her.
Mrs Emma Wilkinson - Teacher of French
Mrs Wilkinson joined Cobham Hall in 2007 as a teacher of languages, teaching across the language-curriculum from Year 7 up to Sixth Form, where she very much values the opportunity to enthuse students about the importance, possibilities and opportunities provided by the study of languages. Since 2010, she has also been appointed to the pastoral role of Lower School Senior Tutor, working to support students in Year 7 and Year 8.
Mrs Wilkinson attended University College London, where she studied for a Combined Honours degree in French and German, gaining her BA at the end of the four year course. She went on to complete a one-year teacher training qualification to teach languages at secondary level.
She has always been very interested in the study of language, culture and literature and enjoys and seeks to promote the opportunities that this presents in terms of travelling abroad to widen experience and knowledge.
In her leisure time, Mrs Wilkinson enjoys reading, with a particular emphasis on developing her interest in medieval studies, as well as other hobbies such as film, craft, swimming and being outdoors. She is also involved with the Girl Guiding movement, helping to run a local Brownie Unit.
Miss Alison Williams - Head of Humanities Faculty
As the daughter of a military family, Miss Williams was educated at a girls’ boarding school from the age of 11 and enjoyed the fun and friendship of being a boarder. With her parents living in Southern Germany, she spent the school holidays improving her skiing and travelling around Europe in the family camper van.
At school she enjoyed studying History, English and Languages and was especially involved in Drama through school plays and local drama festivals.
On leaving school she studied History at Brasenose College, Oxford, specialising in Early Modern England and Renaissance Italy. She went on to teacher training at Nottingham University. After teaching in a large comprehensive she spent some time working for an Anglican church running activities for children and families before returning to teaching when she joined the staff at Cobham Hall in September 2010.
Cobham Hall reminds her very much of the things she loved about her own school: the friendliness, sense of fun and the range of activities going on. She thinks History has important ideas to teach girls as they learn to think critically and explain their own opinions clearly. The highlights of this year in her classroom have included a Medieval Feast, a re-enactment of the Spanish Armada, a debate on the Treaty of Versailles, some very moving presentations about the Holocaust and a fiercely contested revision competition.
Miss Williams loves reading and her favourite novel is Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (although she has never read it in French!). She also enjoys cooking, trips to the theatre and visiting old buildings.