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My HCH experience: Susie Byers, Headteacher of Broomfield House School

We will be publishing a series of blog posts from current students, former students, staff and visitors over the coming months. We are delighted that our first blog comes from Susie Byers. Susie is Headteacher at Broomfield House, and her daughter Bessie attended HCH:

As Headteacher of Broomfield House in Kew, a Dukes Education school, I was thrilled to hear Hampton Court House is joining our family. That’s because my beautiful, brilliant daughter Bessie went there – and it was the making of her.

When Bessie was in Year 6 there was some social pressure to apply to the so-called ‘top schools’. Many of her friends were sitting entrance exams for academically competitive schools but, I just knew it wasn’t her. As her mum, I believed she was talented and would go far, but I needed to find a special, homely school, a senior school like Broomfield, to coax the best from her.

As soon as we walked into Hampton Court House’s spectacular entrance hall that was it! The cosy, welcoming atmosphere, the character and charm of the building and the fabulous parkland already had us excited … And then we met the Headteacher, whose warmth, friendliness and genuine interest in Bessie – she did her entrance exam in his study, while eating a cookie! – confirmed to me that, without doubt, we’d found her home.

I can only describe Bessie’s experience at Hampton Court House as magical … The faith and care of her teachers and the sense of belonging she drew from calling them by their first name, helped her build a secure platform from which to launch her future. Its respect for her as an individual, whose talents were celebrated – wherever they lay, instilled a new ambition and self-belief. The space and freedom to roam around the grounds provided an experience of childhood, not to mention a sense of peace and wellbeing, which so many city kids miss out on. And of course, there’s the fun she had – like an end of term experiment when her science teacher threw potassium in the lake, or an English lesson spent outside making friends with a passing deer who’d wandered onto the grounds. The staff, who she describes as “more intellects than teachers,” understood their students would learn far more from embracing these experiences than staying inside at their desks.

Bessie’s year was the first to sit the reformed, ‘harder’ 9 to 1 GCSEs – and boy did she excel! All 8s and 9s, for a girl who was challenged by the 11+. Bessie is now at UCL studying for a degree in History of Art. But what matters more to me as a mum, is that she’s a happy, confident, independent young woman, ready to make a success of her life. And for that, my husband and I believe, we have Hampton Court House to thank.

Thank you so much to Susie.