The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village. Roald Dahl, Matilda

When you study English at Caterham School, we hope that this is what your English lessons will be: exciting, adventurous, challenging and mind-expanding.

Of course, we arm our students with the skills to perform at their very best in English and across the wider curriculum, but we aim to make sure that everyone’s experience of English is an enriching one. Even when teaching GCSE and A Level, we try to make the study of English fun and creative through workshops, author visits, theatre trips and academic seminars from university professors.

We also make time for full stops, spelling rules and grammar, because communicating well matters – whatever a student chooses to do when they leave school.

We run an annual whole school Poetry Recitation competition, offer entry to national competitions such as Foyles Young Writers, run weekly Lit Soc. sessions and publish ‘Mind’s Eye’, a creative magazine produced with the Art Department.



The English Department is made up of a number of deeply committed teachers who love their subject and have high expectations of the students they teach.

Miss Alice O’Donnell MA (Hons), P.G.C.E, Head of English

A graduate of St Andrews University, with a PGCE from Oxford Brookes, Alice teaches across the age range. Previously, Alice taught at The Downs School, a comprehensive ‘Beacon’ school in West Berkshire. Since relocating to Caterham she has held the position of Head of Year and took over as Head of Department in September 2012. For Alice, a love of the subject and a commitment to challenging and enriching students’ learning is what teaching is all about. Alice runs Lit Soc, edits Mind’s Eye magazine and co-ordinates the school Equestrian Team.

Adam Webster MA (Oxon) Teacher of English, Director of Digital Learning

Adam is a graduate of Oxford University and has previously taught English at Trinity School. He brings with him a suitcase full of creative ideas for teaching the subject which varies as widely as wooden spoon puppetry to high-resolution movie projects, but always with the aim of instilling a deeper understanding of literature and the use of language. In his role Director of Digital Learning he has ensured the smooth introduction of iPads throughout the school and continues to train staff in the use of technology in the classroom.

Miss Angela Cox BA, P.G.C.E Teacher of English

Angela brought with her not just an enthusiasm for her subject, but a love of equestrian sports as well, which she has promoted very successfully within school. With a BA and PGCE from the University of Sussex, Angela teaches 4th Year, 5th Year and the Sixth Form. Angela is a firm believer in enriching students’ experience of English Literature and she frequently organises theatre trips for all years. Angela is a deeply committed teacher, ensuring that her students do as well as they possibly can, irrespective of ability.

Mrs Catherine Drummond BA (Hons) Teacher of English, Head of Boarding

Matthew Godfrey MA Teacher of English, Deputy Head

Matthew joined Caterham School in September 2013 as Deputy Head. A graduate of Durham University, he started his career in business before moving into teaching. He completed his teacher training at the University of London (Institute of Education). Caterham is the fourth school in which Matthew has taught; most recently, he was a boarding housemaster as well as an English teacher at Brighton College. He has a great love of Shakespeare and modern American literature. He is a keen sportsman – especially tennis, squash and skiing.

Mrs Holly Howden BA (Hons) Teacher of English, Assistant Head of Fifth Year (maternity leave)

Holly is a graduate of the University of Birmingham where she also obtained a PGCE. She taught English and Drama at Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls for three years before taking a late gap year to explore Australia. Holly joined Caterham in January 2011 and is a firm believer in motivating students through creative and challenging lessons. Her approach enables students to produce presentations and videos through independent learning, making full use of our ICT facilities. Holly also organises the school Running Club and enjoys training the middle distance runners at Athletics Club.

Andion Van Niekerk BA Teacher of English, Head of Townsend House

Andion holds a BA from the University of Pretoria (SA) and has previously taught in South Africa and Switzerland. Andion teaches the First and Second Year, who thrive on his creative approach to the subject and simply adore him! Outside the classroom, Andion never stops, but you might spot him training young acrobats in the school’s infamous circus club or running the Junior Boarding House.

Mrs Alexandra Yankova BA (Hons) Teacher of English and Drama

A graduate of the University of Bristol with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the University of Cardiff and a PGCE from Roehampton, Alex has previously taught English and Drama at Hinchley Wood School, Esher, The British International School in Cairo and St John’s School, Leatherhead. She has a passion for both subjects and all elements of performance, and has been involved in school productions since she arrived at Caterham in 2008 including ‘Toad of Toad Hall’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Alex also runs the LAMDA Drama examinations which have proved very popular. 

Ms Hannah Wildsmith MA (Hons) Teacher of English

After graduating from Magdalene College Cambridge in 2011 and spending several months exploring Asia, Hannah worked in Fundraising Events for the charity The Prince’s Trust. Alongside this she volunteered as a Progression mentor, helping young people to build confidence and employment skills. Feeling the call to teach but not yet ready to finish charity work, she moved to Tanzania where she volunteered for a year as an English teacher in an isolated, rural secondary school. Hannah joined Caterham in September 2015 and brings with her a delight in all things dramatic, a strong belief in pushing students to think for themselves and a rather raucous cackle.

Dr Emily Gray Phd Teacher of English and History of Art

Having studied English at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Emily completed an MA and PhD in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, specialising in Renaissance art. Before joining Caterham in 2015, she was Head of History of Art and English Teacher at Tudor Hall School in Oxfordshire. Emily is passionate about the relationships between literature and art and particularly enjoys reading and teaching poetry. Emily also teaches History of Art A Level. She also loves rock climbing, cycling and walking and is helping with Caterham’s Climbing Club and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Mr Nicholas Crombie Second in Department

Having graduated from Durham University, Nick completed his PGCE at the same institution, before taking up a job at Repton School, Derbyshire. After five successful years, he has returned to the Home Counties (having originated from Kent/Surrey) to take up a position as Second in Department in English. Within this role he will oversee reading in the lower years as well as taking some responsibility for the extra-curricular facets of the subject. He will be balancing his position within the department with coaching Rugby and Cricket, two of his passions.

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