Oundle’s 33rd Headmaster - Charles Bush (HM 2005-15)
Oundle’s Headmaster, Charles Bush is retiring this summer after forty years in education and ten years at the School’s helm.
Mr Bush arrived at Oundle in September 2005, following twelve years as Headmaster of Eastbourne College. Prior to that he was Housemaster and Head of Mathematics at Marlborough College, Head of Mathematics at Abingdon School, and he taught initially at Aylesbury Grammar School. He enjoyed his secondary education at Melbourne Grammar School and after a foundation year at Melbourne University, he read mathematics at Trinity College, Oxford.
Deputy Head, Mrs Daviona Watt commented, “Thanks to Charlie’s extraordinary ability to lead a community and manage its administration, he leaves the School flourishing. On arrival in 2005, Charlie quickly sought to define his aims and confirm his vision. Twenty-seven Oxbridge offers in his final year placed Oundle second only to Winchester in the Rugby Group and is a fitting tribute to his commitment to the academic strength of the School. The outstanding success in the ISI (2008 and 2014) and Ofsted (2011) inspections is testament to his educational leadership. His highly personal and pastoral approach has confirmed his belief in the fundamental importance of a sense of community for pupils and staff if an institution is to thrive.”
‘Pace and purpose’ has been Mr Bush’s mantra and his omnipresence at events has confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that he practises what he preaches. Getting to know his constituency and gaining an understanding of every facet of the School has remained at the heart of his approach throughout his ten years. He has cared about his pupils and their educational experience in the broadest sense, and he has made it his goal to develop a warm and personal partnership with parents and to make every child feel valued in a large School. He has invested time in caring for the wider community too: getting to know the support staff and making a point of appreciating their work around the School as well as nurturing links with the town through a variety of channels. He has constantly sought to engender in the pupils a sense of respect for the town, which belongs to the local community and which they are fortunate to share.
Mr Bush with his wife Mary
To support his pursuit of excellence, Mr Bush has placed a priority on recruiting high quality staff and investing in professional development. Under his strategic leadership, the School has seen the completion of the design and build for SciTec for Biology and Chemistry, the refurbishment of the Needham Building for Physics, the Adamson Centre for Modern Languages, Old Dryden for English and the redevelopment of the Cripps Library. He has taken a strong lead on completing the SciTec vision and has taken a keen interest in the planning and design for the SciTec Campus, which will be completed in summer 2016, as well as spear-heading an ambitious Sports MasterPlan over the coming decade, starting with the J M Mills Pavilion which opened this summer.
At the School's Speech Day on 4th July, when he was presented with an engraved bell and a portrait to be hung in the Great Hall, Mr Bush commented, "I have taken more than I have given and learned more than I have taught." Mr Bush has been painted at the door of Chapel where he has traditionally stood over the last ten years to greet School pupils and staff as they entered the building. It is the first ever portrait of an Oundle Headmaster to be have been painted away from the study.
Mr Bush was also presented with a memory collage book from the thirty-eight families who have had one or more children at the School throughout his time as Headmaster. The thoughtful gift was organised and presented by parent, Mr Jonathan Alms.
Mr Bush has been loyally supported by his wife, Mary, who has herself been actively involved in the life of the School. She has been a huge support at events near and far, hosting numerous functions and becoming a Tutor in a girls’ boarding house.
The Chairman of Governors, Mr Julian Tregoning commented, "Charlie Bush has been an outstanding, dynamic, energetic and inspirational leader and it has been a privilege to work with him over the past ten years. Under his watch the School has become an exemplary benchmark for a boarding education, and he is without doubt one of the outstanding Headmasters of his generation."
Mrs Watt concluded, “Charlie is known for his keen sense of fun, his kindness, his wit in company, his sharp sense of humour and his genuine pleasure for pupils or staff who have done a really good job or achieved great success. He has been a tireless servant of Oundle and, in characteristically modest style, has seen his time at the helm as a privilege not a reward. I am sure we will not fully grasp the enormity of his contribution until he has gone.”
Headmaster, Mr Charles Bush added, “At the heart of Oundle are the pupils - talented, purposeful, engaging, hospitable, benign and friendly. They are generally bright, go-getters who seek success and achievement in a modest, understated manner. The easy, confident style of the Oundelian, without swagger or chip, is a prevailing feature that transcends generations. Pupils are wonderfully supported by a very capable staff. Chatting to Oundelians and having lunches with them in Houses have been among the most enjoyable times.”
Mrs Sarah Kerr-Dineen takes up the position as the new Head of Oundle School in September. Educated at Steyning Grammar School, West Sussex, Mrs Kerr-Dineen went on to gain an MA in English at Trinity College, Cambridge and to pursue graduate study at Christ Church, Oxford. Her teaching career spans over twenty years, including thirteen at St Edward’s, Oxford where she was also a Boarding Housemistress and ultimately Director of Studies. For the past six years, Mrs Kerr-Dineen has been Warden of Forest School, a co-educational 4 – 18 HMC school in London. Mrs Kerr-Dineen is married with four children aged between 18 and 26 and her interests include reading, walking, the theatre and music.
Mrs Kerr-Dinnen commented, "Oundle is a great School. It values individuals and seeks to provide for its pupils an education that will guide them for life. It promotes aspiration, ambition and innovation at the same time as the healthy development of decent young people. These are impressive characteristics on which to build and I look forward keenly to what is to come.”
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015.
There are currently 1100 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.