Meet the head - Nicola Walker at Lavant House School


- Credit: Archant

Nicola Walker, Headmistress of Lavant House School, Chichester, had a passion for school life from an early age, but there is one thing her pupils will never find on their school dinners menu

Originally published in A+ Education South East Autumn 2015.

If you hadn’t become a teacher what would you have done instead? - There was really never any other option. I was always going to be a teacher – from lining up my toys for their lessons as a small child, explaining maths homework to other pupils at secondary school to studying mathematics and education at university. I feel so lucky to do a job I enjoy so much.

Was there any type of school dinner that you couldn’t stand? - Every week, usually on a Thursday, was the dreaded semolina and jam. Imagine eating something that looks like very thick wallpaper paste with a blob of jam in the middle. Lunch supervisors didn’t let you leave the table until you had eaten everything. Most days you could find someone who would eat the food you didn’t like. However no one ever volunteered to eat your semolina for you.

What is your favourite film and why? - I have two. Zulu (1964). The cinematography is stunning. The Zulus coming over the hill makes my spine tingle as does the moment the remaining troops break into Welsh song. This is closely followed by Gone with the Wind - beautiful costumes and a woman who shows determination and spirit.

What were your favourite lessons at school? - Maths and more maths. I love problem-solving and anything that involves puzzles, so the subject suited me well. My grandma taught me my times tables before I started primary school and it just gave me an early love of the subject.

Your Desert Island Disc(s)... - I would need at least two. ‘Have I told you lately that I love you?’ by Van Morrison. Given that it has been played over five million times on the radio you would think I had heard it enough but I still love it. This would be closely followed by ‘I love to Boogie’ by T Rex - guaranteed to get me up dancing, singing along and to lift my spirits after a hard day.

How do you relax? - I am addicted to killer Sudoku but they have to be the very challenging ones. I often stay up late to finish one because I hate to be beaten by a puzzle. In addition, I love to garden, walk in the countryside, bake and spend time with my family.

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What is the one thing that makes you most proud of where you work? - Results days are always wonderful. To be able to see the pupils who have worked so hard achieve the results they deserve is a real privilege. To know that they are ready and prepared for the next stage in their lives is an immense pleasure. I think the work that is being done at Lavant to encourage girls to have confidence in computer science, mathematics and science subjects generally is something I am looking forward to seeing develop further under my leadership.

If you could be Prime Minister for a day what’s the first thing that you would do? - Review university tuition fees.



Maths or English? - It will always be maths for me, especially statistics.

School dinners or packed lunches? - Well, provided semolina is not on the menu, then school dinners. I think the social aspect of pupils sitting down together, eating together and having time to socialise is a valuable part of the school day.

Newsletter or Twitter? - There is a place for both. Twitter is great for getting out a quick bit of news instantly. A newsletter allows more time to consider what you want to say. Newsletters are often treasured for many years when they mark a special event.



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