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. We believe that the study of English should be at all times enriching and challenging and we strive to arm students with the skills to perform at their very best in English and across the wider curriculum. Even when delivering the IGCSE in the Fourth and Fifth Years, and at AS and A2 when we follow the Edexcel syllabus we try to make the study of English fun and creative. Fostering a love of reading is key, and all teachers aim to develop in their students a passion for literature and language, from the First Year to the Upper Sixth. We also teach full stops and spelling rules, however, because no teacher in his or her right mind should ever suggest that these things take care of themselves!
We bring texts alive and take them out of the classroom through theatre trips and acting workshops. We attend spend a day exploring Shakespeare’s London at The Globe Theatre, we invite authors to the school to talk to pupils (most recently Darren Shan, Melvin Burgess and Marcus Sedgewick) and once a week the junior classes make themselves comfortable on bean bags in the Junior Library to enjoy a good read. Our Sixth Form students are stimulated by seminar days in London and the chance to question visiting academics about their core texts.
There are all kinds of rewards too and writers from any year have a chance of seeing their work published in 'Mind's Eye', the full colour creative magazine produced jointly by the English and Art departments.
Alice O'Donnell MA (Hons), P.G.C.E, Head of English (Maternity leave)
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 coordinates creative writing through the school, including the popular club ‘WORDZ’ and edits Mind's Eye magazine. On Wednesday evenings, Alice can be found assisting with horse-riding club and indulging her other passion: horses.
Adam Webster MA (Oxon) Second in Department, 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 as Assistant Director of Learning and Teaching he aims to assist in the deployment and development of new technology across the school.
Marc Broughton BA (Hons) – Head of Fourth Year
A graduate of the University of Worcester, Marc previously taught English at Liverpool College. He is a keen sportsman who currently coaches Rugby and Cricket. Marc holds a British Alpine Association Ski Leader award and is trained in Basic Ski Instruction, which enables him to accompany the students on the school’s annual ski trip. Marc teaches across the age range and is loved by students for his sense of humour and lively style. Marc is also known throughout the school for his dedication to the pastoral welfare of the students in his care.
Jack Birtwhistle BA (Hons) – Head of Underwood House
Jack graduated with an English degree from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2007 and completed his PGCE at the University of Bristol. He loves unlocking the hidden secrets within texts and hopes to provide his students with the keys to do the same. With his skills of technological wizardry, Jack is constantly improving and enhancing the interactive resources of the English Department. Possessing a wide range of interests from sports to the arts, Jack has found a home as Head of Underwood House which allows him to get involved in the varied House activities, as he tries to inspire Underwood to greatness. In the spring term Jack can also be found on the Astroturf enthusiastically coaching and umpiring hockey at Caterham.
Angela Cox BA, P.G.C.E
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.
Matthew Godfrey MA – Deputy Head External Relations & Co-curriculum
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.
Holly Howden BA (Hons) - Assistant Head of Fourth Year
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.
Miss Sarah Ramsdale BA
Sarah graduated with a joint honours degree in English Literature and International Politics and holds a PGCE from the University of Exeter. Prior to working at Caterham, Sarah worked in Spain, Alderney and the USA. She has a well-known passion for Victorian and Romantic literature and a penchant for costumes of that era. In addition to her wide range of hobbies including cookery, musical theatre and ballet, Sarah assists with Running Club and is Co-Editor of the Caterhamian.
Lydia Tapley BA, DipSpLD, AMBDA Head of Lower School, SENCo, RPSE
A graduate of the Chatham University, Pittsburgh, USA with a PGCE from the University of London, Lydia is heavily involved in the teaching and pastoral care of the younger pupils within the school. She completed the OCR Diploma in teaching pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties and took on the role of SENCo in September 2005. Amidst her many responsibilities to the school, she finds time to teach English to Lower School pupils.
Andion Van Niekerk BA - 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.
Alexandra Yankova BA (Hons)
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. Since September 2012, Alex’s teaching time has been divided between the Drama and English Departments.