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Meet your boarding school family: Head, Deputy Head, Head of Boarding

Stonar School

Stonar is a school for pupils aged 2 to 18 in Atworth, near Bath, southern England. The Prep School is coeducational; the Senior School is currently just girls (boys will be admitted from September 2016). The school has around 210 day pupils and 118 boarders.

Here, we meet the senior staff at Stonar and find out how they support students throughout their time at the school.

Dr Sally Divall Head Stonar School

Dr Sally Divall

Dr Sally Divall worked in research and business planning before joining Stonar 15 years ago as Head of Physics. She has been Acting Head since February 2015 and will become the permanent Head at the beginning of the 2015 summer term.

‘To help young people explore ideas and develop their strengths is a fascinating task that is both challenging and rewarding, and I enjoy teaching and meeting with pupils of all ages.

‘Our staff are able to know and support each pupil individually, acknowledging each person’s unique talents, and this leads to pupils making exceptional progress.

‘It is a privilege to work in the supportive and stimulating community of pupils, parents and staff at Stonar.’

Nicola Hawkins Deputy Head StonarNicola Hawkins
Deputy Head and houseparent

As a houseparent of York House (the Sixth Form house at Stonar), Nicola lives alongside the school’s boarding pupils, providing pastoral and academic support for them. She also supports day pupils and other teachers as Deputy Head of the school.

‘In my office, I have a picture of Dalmatians, all of them white with black spots apart from one who has fluorescent spots. It is captioned, “Dare to be different”…

‘That is what I hope to be for the pupils under my care. Each child should have the freedom to “dare to be different” and this is why, since becoming a teacher, I have forged a pastoral role.

‘Living with young people is never dull. The transition from childhood into early adulthood is no easy one, yet witnessing the changes that occur in each individual is hugely rewarding. 

‘Being a houseparent is an enormous responsibility; parents entrust us with their children and they need to know that their child is not only safe, but also thriving under our care. To do this, I believe three things are essential.

‘First, ensure that pupils feel comfortable in their own skin and that they feel they belong. If a child is happy and relaxed then their mind is more likely to be open to new possibilities.'

Boarding house stonar school
Upper school: The Common Room of a Sixth Form house at Stonar (Picture: Stonar)

Meet your boarding school family

‘Second, recognise a pupil’s strengths and build on them, making the most of their individual learning style, and providing support through highly qualified staff who understand them and give them the attention they require.

‘Finally, give every child the opportunity to shine in a safe environment where their strengths and efforts are recognised and celebrated.

‘With these three strands in place, pupils can discover themselves, believe that they matter and develop a real sense of confidence and self-worth.

‘In an environment where they can “dare to be different”, students can exceed expectations both academically and personally, and develop into confident, mature and sensitive adults. That, for me, is what the heart of pastoral care is and why it is so important.’

Sixth Form Head Charlotte Bennett Stonar School

Charlotte Bennett
Head of Sixth Form

The Head of Sixth Form is the teacher in charge of the academic and personal welfare of students in the last two years of school.

Charlotte Bennett is also a geography teacher, and has taught Religious Studies, Physical Education and Drama. She has run and supported the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and produced student and teacher plays.

‘The boarding environment makes this a way of life rather than a job. I have had the opportunity to take part in a huge range of subjects and activities which shows the diverse range of opportunities on offer to the students.

‘I particularly enjoy the outdoor aspect of Geography, with field work and expeditions. I see teaching as a good opportunity to carry on doing what I love and to inspire others.

‘If my own children grow up with the self-assurance and respect for others that my current Sixth Form students have, I couldn’t be prouder or more delighted!’

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Stonar Pupils
Home from home: A group of friends at Stonar (Picture: Stonar)