Headteachers play a pivotal role in the world of education, navigating the course of their school much like the captain of a ship. Here we take a look at six fantastic headteachers who strive for the best in their institutions and work tirelessly to shape their student's futures. 


Dan Thornburn, Headteacher at Millfield Prep School

Somerset County Gazette: Dan Thornburn, Headteacher at Millfield Prep SchoolDan Thornburn, Headteacher at Millfield Prep School (Image: Millfield Prep School)
Millfield Prep School is my third headship. I joined in January 2022 from Edgeborough School, in Surrey, where I was head since 2017. Prior to this I was head of St Petroc's, north Cornwall, and I also had teaching spells at Lockers Park and Chafyn Grove. As a head, it's hugely satisfying talking to pupils who have been through your school and remember their time fondly, and it's fantastic when your school gets recognised. Millfield Prep won the Independent Prep School of the Year in 2022.

The Millfield community work and live by the school values 'be kind, be curious, be challengers, be you and be brilliant.' We aim to ensure that every child can discover their brilliance across all aspects of school life whether in the classroom, on the sports field or on stage.

These opportunities are supported by outstanding facilities including an equestrian centre, 25 metre swimming pool, golf courses, science centre, sports pitches and purpose-built music department, housed in more than 200 acres of Somerset countryside.

Outstanding pastoral care is at the core, and 22 nationalities are represented within our diverse pupil body. My personal tag line is 'work hard, play hard, have fun and be kind.'

Come and visit us at our next open days on October 7, 2023 or March 2, 2024. Book online on our website.

Address: Millfield Prep School, Edgarley Hall, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8LD

Tel: 01458 832446

Web: millfieldschool.com/prep-7-13

Ian Wilmshurst,  Headteacher at Kings Bruton

Somerset County Gazette: Ian Wilmshurst, Headteacher at Kings BrutonIan Wilmshurst, Headteacher at Kings Bruton (Image: Kings Bruton)
We all remember our favourite teacher. For me, many years ago, I was fortunate to be taught English O Level (yes, it was quite a few years back!) by Jack Bevan who was in his final year of an illustrious teaching career. Jack was a passionate Welshman, an Oxford rugby blue who had fought at Monte Casino, but I remember him as an inspirational teacher who could make Chaucer come alive for us 14 year olds whilst still persuading us of the importance of grammar. In today's parlance, Jack was a legend.

I am often asked what I consider is the most important aspect of being a head. The key to success in any school community is the quality of the teachers. Appointing, supporting and encouraging high quality staff is my most important role.

King's Bruton pupils are fortunate to have the support of such committed teaching and support staff, who ensure that the academic, pastoral, social and extracurricular life of this busy, successful school is thriving in all areas. We have welcomed this year a talented new group of teachers, some just starting their careers, others with years of experience in other schools. I would not be surprised if some of them, in time, are remembered by King's pupils in the same way that I remember Jack Bevan.

Address: King's Bruton, Plox, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0ED

Tel: 01749 814200

Email: office@kingsbruton.com

Web: kingsbruton.com


Bart Wielenga, Headteacher at Blundells

Somerset County Gazette: Bart Wielenga, Headteacher at BlundellsBart Wielenga, Headteacher at Blundells (Image: Blundells)
In the education sector it is very easy to become distracted from our core purpose by the background noise.

Several challenging issues face independent education, but it is good to be mindful of what our core purpose is. There is a case to be made for excellent exam results, and good outcomes for pupils are imperative to running a good school, but fundamentally, I know I speak for my colleagues when I say that the majority go into teaching because we believe that we can make a difference.

That difference is manifested in preparing young people to live lives of meaning and purpose. At school we create an environment in which they can practice living good lives so that when they leave school, they have the desire to do something positive, and the skills and self-belief to pull it off. That is certainly worth getting up for in the morning!

Address: Blundell's School, Blundell's Road, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 4DN

Tel: 01884 252393

Email: prep@blundells.org

Web: blundells.org


Tim Naylor, Headteacher at Bath Academy

Somerset County Gazette: Tim Naylor, Headteacher at Bath AcademyTim Naylor, Headteacher at Bath Academy (Image: Bath Academy)
I was educated at a boarding school on the North Yorkshire moors by Benedictine monks. Since the 6th century they have promoted a love of learning and the importance of community for personal development. I believe we all strive to belong and feel significant. The key to exemplary education is encouragement.

Each young person's feeling of genuine security is rooted in a deep sense of belonging and feeling that they can contribute to their community in some way. I recall one former student who had been terribly bullied since primary school, had ASD, and was then home-schooled. With close personal support at Bath Academy she achieved grades A*A*A, progressed to read philosophy at a Russell Group university, and was recognised for her achievement at the CIFE Awards at the House of Lords.

A headteacher's real satisfaction comes from seeing individuals grow and achieve the most in their lives. My aim is that everything in college is arranged so the strong have something for which to strive and the less confident do not withdraw in self-doubt and anxiety. We look not for academic brilliance, but the desire to learn.

In an environment that provides acceptance, encouragement and respect, students' feelings change to optimism and motivation, and in turn make a creative contribution to the world in which we live.

Address: Bath Academy, 27 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HX

Tel: 01225 334577

Email: info@bathacademy.co.uk

Web: bathacademy.co.uk


Emma Reynolds, Headteacher at Frome College

Somerset County Gazette: Emma Reynolds, Headteacher at Frome CollegeEmma Reynolds, Headteacher at Frome College (Image: Frome College)
I have been an English teacher for over 30 years, both in national state schools and abroad; for the past 18 years I have been a senior leader and headteacher. I still teach English, years of experience have taught me that it is important for a leader to do what they ask of their teams. Teaching is a demanding profession and one we should respect. So often schools are blamed for society's problems but in fact state schools are the fourth emergency service without the appropriate funding. We must remember that education at its best, changes lives and communities for the better.

Young people are not statistics, they are individuals whose life chances depend on their results and skills learnt. Now more than ever, young people need every single opportunity to succeed in a difficult economic climate, at Frome College we work hard to prepare our young people for their next steps, whether that be university, apprenticeships or employment.

I will always remain committed to an education system which gives opportunity to all students, irrespective of their background. It is my benchmark that what I do for other people's children should be of the standard I would wish for my own; I am privileged to have a fantastic career and to serve our community as the principal of Frome College.

Address: Frome Community College, Bath Road, Frome, BA11 2HQ

Tel: 01373 465353

Email: office@fromecollege.org

Web: fromecollege.org


Mark Brearey, Headteacher at Kingswood Prep

Somerset County Gazette: Mark Brearey, Headteacher at Kingswood PrepMark Brearey, Headteacher at Kingswood Prep (Image: Kingswood Prep)
For over 10 years I have had the privilege to be headmaster at Kingswood Prep School, and every day take great pleasure in seeing the development and progress of our children, from the nursery right up to Year 6.

Situated on a magnificent 100-acre site in Lansdown, KPS very much embodies a countryside atmosphere, with open fields and plenty of space for the children to explore. I am very proud of the Prep School's ambition for academic rigour and our aim to foster positive attitudes and a 'can-do' mindset. Our excellent staff want all of our pupils to feel good about their learning and to be confident about who they are. Believing in yourself while still being kind to others is a key ingredient of a KPS education.

Kingswood Prep School is firmly based on Christian principles, and we believe in John Wesley's vision for community and education at the heart of all we do. Many parents comment on the school's kind and nurturing environment, the absence of pretension, and how happy their children are to attend.

Please do come and see Kingswood Prep School for yourselves - it truly offers a wonderful education for young people. I am sure you will be able to feel the energy and vibrancy as soon as you walk through the door.

Address: Kingswood Prep School, College Road, Bath, BA1 5SD

Tel: 01225 734460

Email: kpsreception@kingswood.bath.sch.uk

Web: kingswood.bath.sch.uk


Jayne Davis, Headteacher at Bath College 

Somerset County Gazette: Jayne Davis, Headteacher at Bath College Jayne Davis, Headteacher at Bath College (Image: Bath College)
It's an exciting time to be a college principal - I truly believe that right now it is further education's time to shine. With more Level 3 programmes than ever before, the introduction of T-levels (working directly with local employers) and the introduction of higher technical qualifications, the pathways to university and higher technical skills has never been so varied.

A passionate FE educator and ex-teacher myself, I am proud of the provision we offer at Bath College. Most people know us for vocational courses, which we will always offer, but perhaps don't always think of us for courses such as cyber security or criminology, or even be aware that we work with local partners such as the Theatre Royal Bath for our performing arts provision - The Bath Theatre Academy.

I have an immensely rewarding job and I love seeing learners progress across such a wonderfully wide range of provisions from full-time 16-18-year-olds, apprentices, part-time adults, international learners, HE, our learners in the community, those online, learners with special educational needs and those enjoying leisure courses. The college can have up to 10,000 learners in a good year and this just shows the great contribution and impact we have in our local and regional communities.

Address: Bath College, Avon St, Bath and Wells Rd, Radstock, BA3 3RW

Tel: 01225 312191

Email: info@bathcollege.ac.uk

Web: bathcollege.ac.uk