A Q&A with Mrs Davis, Head of Princess Helena College

A Q&A with Mrs Davis, Head of Princess Helena College

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It's been a full year since Mrs Davis joined Princess Helena College as Head. It has certainly been a busy year, with our first cohort of boys arriving in September 2019 and a Royal visit from our president HRH The Duchess of Gloucester to mark the start of our bicentennial celebrations in February 2020. Mrs Davis has also had to contend with the impact of Covid-19 and the move to remote teaching. We caught up with Mrs Davis to reflect on the last year...

What attracted you to the role of Head at PHC?

I have always enjoyed working in a school where I am able to know everyone within it. I started my teaching in a small boarding school where this was the case and have very fond memories of this. PHC is very similar in many ways. The ethos is such that everyone is accepted for who they are and everyone is very well supported and cared for. All successes and achievements are celebrated. 

Of course, the beautiful grounds and buildings are absolutely fantastic - it is a very peaceful and a calm place to work in and learn. I am very much missing that at the moment. Although our Estates staff are doing a splendid job of ensuring they remain looking wonderful for our return.

How would you describe the ethos of PHC?
Our students achieve their best academically but also grow into well rounded individuals ready to face the challenges of the modern world.  They are encouraged to question the world around them, push themselves beyond their comfort zone and recognise the importance of making and learning from their mistakes.

Our strong alumnae network reflects the fact that our students feel part of the PHC community long after they have left us.  Many of our old girls return to school to give presentations to existing students and advise and support them in their future study/career plans. Even now, while we are on lock down, alumnae have signed up to participate in a series of virtual careers lectures. It’s wonderful to see them re-visiting us, even if from afar at the moment.

What has been your favourite experience at PHC so far?
There have been so many! I have really enjoyed all the House events - it is lovely to see such healthy competition, but with a real sense of support for each other in the house but across the houses as well. They give so many opportunities for student leadership but also for them to use their skills across a wide cross section of activities. We are continuing to keep this up with our remote competitions - the houses remain feisty - even if it is from a distance!

What makes you most proud of PHC?
We very much nurture our individual students - all our staff know them all so well and our pastoral care and support for academic and co-curricular achievements are excellent. We are a family and community.  We have a beautiful, calming environment where everyone feels they can be themselves and all successes and achievements are celebrated. 

What advice would you give parents when selecting a school?
When meeting prospective parents, I always speak of the importance of the school being the right fit for them and their child. I would encourage all parents to visit the school a number of times, at Open Days and also on regular school days. This gives them the opportunity to speak to staff and students and also observe lessons. Parents can then make their decision confident that the school they have chosen is going to support, motivate and ultimately get the very best out of their son or daughter. It is a very important decision and can take time to come to that right decision. I know it is harder at the moment - a very major part of the experience is being able to visit a school. I hope we are able to bring some feeling of what PHC is all about with our 'virtual' Open Day.

What do you like about working in education?
I can’t think of anything else that I have wanted to be - teaching is so rewarding and it has been my whole career. When I was much younger I considered becoming an engineer, but I am so grateful that I decided that this was my vocation.

What were your favourite lessons at school?
I was always inspired by my Latin and Mathematics teachers and I was so fortunate to be able to study both these at university and are my main teaching subjects. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching?
I have two main activities.  Running which, I came to late in life, but allows me to completely switch off and occasionally I take part in races which allow me to challenge myself further. I have enjoyed adding to the kilometres for the PHC relay competition over Easter. And a much more sedate one which is gardening - I try to spend time, especially in the summer, weeding and listening to the radio - especially the cricket. At this time, I have found it particularly calming and one which even during this lock down, I have been able to do. I feel most fortunate to have a garden. 



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