Meet the head of Spring Grove School, Wye
- Credit: Archant
Bill Jones, head of Spring Grove School and father of four on his enduring love of music, on big families and education for ‘free-range children’
Tell us a bit about you
Although I never considered becoming a teacher when I was a child, it proved to be a natural step. I was number four in a family of 10 children and therefore had lots of younger siblings; there are seven boys and three girls and we loved sport and singing together.
I became a chorister at Llandaff Cathedral School, enjoyed being kept busy as a singer, loved playing sport, especially rugby at a time when Welsh rugby was enjoying a golden age.
I became a teacher during my ‘gap’ year and discovered a natural ability to engage in children’s learning. After studying music at Edinburgh University, playing lots of jazz and singing with chamber groups, I undertook a Postgraduate Teacher Training Degree in Primary education and taught variously at Loretto Junior School and George Watson’s College, both in Edinburgh, before moving south for a deputy headship, first at St Mary’s school, Lincoln and then, in 2001, at Junior King’s Canterbury.
While teaching, I maintained a musical career, singing and playing trombone in bands. As a father of four young children, I was also involved in rugby coaching at local clubs and directed music alongside my wife at various churches.
When did you become head teacher?
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I took over as Headmaster in January 2008. Spring Grove is a delightful family prep school and from the moment I first entered the school grounds, I thought that I could send my own children here. That they had outgrown primary education by then did not put me off!
It has been said we do ‘free-range children’ at SG, which underlines our ability to treat each child as an individual, allowing them to explore and experiment; and also to get to know them and their strengths and provide them with life-changing opportunities. Our tagline is truly appropriate: we are “a great place to grow!”
The school is small and uniquely independent and we are privileged to send our children on to a variety of schools after SG: many go into the grammar system, some move on to Wye School (now about to enter its fourth year of education) while others move on to further independent education at a variety of schools in Canterbury and Ashford as well as slightly further afield. Above all, I like to help parents choose the best next school for their child based on the child’s own ability and character.
How will you celebrate the 50th Anniversary?
Spring Grove began as a Pre-Prep school in 1967 with 11 pupils, when it was simply part of the Christopherson family home. The school grew and in the early 1980s was bought by Niall Washington-Jones who remained Headmaster for the next 20 years.
What I find particularly remarkable is that everyone who has ever attended the school has nothing but praise for the teachers, for the ethos and for the very happy and dear memories.
We are planning a series of events during 2017-2018, starting with a PTA Ball. There will be both school and out-of-school events and as a regular performer with local choirs and instrumental groups, we are planning several musical events. We hope to re-connect with Springgrovians who have lost touch with their old school, to publish an SG book that will highlight the achievements of our alumni and tell the story of the school. We plan to close our ‘year’ with a Springgrovians Day which will include a school photo with as many former pupils as possible.
Least-favourite school dinner?
Yellowing, overcooked cabbage (I can still smell it) and prunes and tapioca were just the sort of meal that made one’s heart sink, especially at a boarding school where there was no escape. Happily, I can now look forward to lovely salads, curry and bannoffee pie at Spring Grove.
What makes you most proud of Spring Grove?
The happy ethos of the school. It is not only a great place to grow, it is also a great place to work with great colleagues and great children.
If you could be Prime Minister for a day, what would you do for education?
I would ensure that music, art, drama, sport and outdoor education subjects receive greater recognition and value.
Quick fire questions:
Maths or English?
I love both.
School dinners or packed lunches?
Newsletter or Twitter?
Get in touch
Spring Grove School, Harville Road, Wye TN25 5EZ. 01233 812337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.springgroveschool.co.uk