Ryan joined Sevenoaks a mere four years ago and yet he has been engaged in all aspects of school life, bringing his professional and caring approach to all he undertakes. With IB experience from Haileybury, Ryan quickly established himself within the Maths department taking on roles in the Middle School, mentoring new staff and devising the new Higher Level Applications course. His ability as a teacher was without question. Able to support and give those who struggled with the subject the belief they could achieve their goals, he also challenged and enriched the understanding of some of our best students. He has been a reliable and dedicated second in department and the only teacher in my time who has offered the Sets, Relations and Groups option for the old Higher Level course, allowing us to offer students the full set of option choices. Outside of Maths he was involved in basketball, was a valued member of the SCR committee and taught TOK, where his intellectual aptitude and attention to detail drew praise. He was also a hugely popular Middle School tutor. Professional, dedicated, a teacher who connects well with the students; Wellington College is lucky to be gaining him.
All hail the Queen of Tarsia! Of all the collection of lovable eccentrics who make up the Mathematics department, Sophie is perhaps both the most lovable and the most eccentric. She is kind-hearted and hard-working, and in the classroom has the very best interests of her students in mind. She supports them with meticulous planning, preparation, teaching, and assessment, as well as hand-sewn cushions and bunting. In the department she has been a loyal friend and passionate supporter of us all. She loves to laminate, is fond of a spreadsheet, and is driven to make things better. While it may initially seem surprising that she touches neither alcohol nor chocolate, on reflection there has probably never been a colleague less in need of either lowering of inhibitions or stimulation. She made the department feel like family. Without her it won’t be either as warm or as noisy. We wish her all the best as she applies her considerable talents to raising her young family.
Jim is leaving Sevenoaks after four years of remarkable and varied contribution to both the academic side of school life, as well as the co-curricular programme. Cheerful, kind and always willing to ‘put a shift in’, Jim has captivated the imaginations of his students with his extraordinary lessons and entertained both staff and students with his exceptional sense of humour. He also participated in trips to Morocco, Iceland and Washington. Jim coached the 1st V squash team and helped lead both our senior and U16 teams to the national finals last year. These contributions, along with his commitment to his roles as Sixth Form tutor and Assistant Timetabler, mean that he has left an almost unfillable gap in the Sevenoaks community. Emmanuel College London will consider themselves lucky to have such a kind and committed teacher. The staff there will be grateful for his unfalteringly loyal friendship, as the staff here have been. He will be sorely missed.
Tony Howcroft (OS 1958)
Tony’s affiliation with Sevenoaks began many years ago: he attended the school as a pupil when it was all boys. He contributed to the school's sport programme from then. As a talented sportsman, he played at 1st team level in the school’s rugby, cricket, tennis and athletics teams. His passions for history and sport continued throughout his career and Tony acquired an extensive collection of both academic and sporting qualifications.
He has always had an avid enthusiasm for coaching and joined the school to develop a squash programme outside the normal curriculum time. It gave students for the first time the opportunity to be involved in private sessions. One of his many qualities was to use his skills and experience to the benefit of the students. He was well respected by those students in his care. Through his expertise and innovative coaching as an England Squash coach he produced four boys’ Kent Cup winning teams.
Outside the school, he played tennis for Clarendon TC, squash for Knole Park SC and rugby at Sevenoaks RFC in the 1st XV. Tony was a co-founder and secretary of the Sevenoaks Squash Academy, based originally in the Marley Sports Centre at Sevenoaks School. He was also instrumental in the development and move of the Clarendon TC to its new venue in the Paddock in Sevenoaks.
A gentleman, scholar and a true friend, Tony has given his time to developing the young for over 30 years. He was respected and well liked, and he leaves behind a legacy which will be hard to fill.
Mark joined the Technology department at Sevenoaks in September 2014. Prior to teaching, he had a short bout as a professional footballer playing as a striker in the Welsh premiership and representing Wales at youth level. Following a career-ending injury, he turned to the classroom and to Sevenoaks. His innovative ideas in the classroom, particularly around robotics and virtual reality, helped to shape the very popular Technology SSC programme, while outside of lessons he immersed himself in all aspects of school life. He led the 1st XI football team for several years, was an assistant tutor in the IC and taught on trips to places as far-reaching as Boston, Iceland and Greece. Outside of school he is pursuing a Master’s in Education and Technology at UCL and was a key goal-scorer in Sevenoaks Town FC’s successful promotion campaign last year. Mark was a great friend to many, always upbeat and keen to have fun; he will be sorely missed by staff and students alike but we wish him well at King’s College School, Wimbledon.
Every so often in life you come across a real Welsh beauty! Liz has been a delight for the many of us fortunate to work alongside her, here at Sevenoaks. Joining as Head of Girls’ Games, from Cranbrook School in 2001, she wasted no time in sharing her passion and energy for all things sport and rapidly transformed the Girls’ side of the department to where it is today.
To give a flavour of the enormous development thanks to Liz’s vision, there were just five hockey teams when she arrived. Much to her dismay the Lower Astro had been delayed in completion, giving just the Top Astro for training and match playing for the Games programme. This wasn’t just for hockey, but also for netball, as this was before the arrival of the Sennocke Centre and Duke’s Meadow courts. Undeterred, Liz would stoically load her trusty minibus with a team at a time and thought nothing of driving them all over the county (and sometimes beyond) to get the fixtures they so very much deserved.
As any trip leader will appreciate, taking students away can be a stressful time. Liz has accompanied many trips, but notably run four different hockey tours for over 30 students at a time to South Africa. Many Old Sennockians cite their tour as ‘the best school trip they ever went on’, as the unique blend of sport, friendship and travel unites all involved. One trip highlight for Liz has to be the moment she discovered she had left all staff and student passports in the hotel safe, as they arrived in Calais on the way home from Holland! Liz’s calm manner saw the group safely home and the passports securely couriered back to school.
A fine hockey, golf, and tennis player herself, Liz has been instrumental to the success of the PE department. Alongside the delivery of a dynamic curriculum, her desire to grow girls’ sport sees us regularly field over 25 teams for hockey. Her initial target for each age group to reach quarter-finals has been completely surpassed, with many reaching national finals over the years. Her contribution to the netball programme has been second to none, and her cricket knowledge complements her guidance of Summer term sports.
Liz’s wisdom and expertise have also been a huge value to many Year 7 pupils as they arrive at Sevenoaks each year and find Mrs Joseph as their tutor. A beautiful combination of warmth and motherly guidance, along with her clear expectation of standards, sees many nervous pupils though those daunting first few weeks of settling into life at Sevenoaks. With her encouragement they begin to flourish and embrace every opportunity thrown their way. Many will have thanked ‘Mumma J’ at their Leavers’ Ball, as she proudly smiled at all they have each achieved in their time at Sevenoaks.
So, as her colleagues and friends, it is entirely appropriate that we are able to sway with gratitude to all that Liz has given us during her 19 years at Sevenoaks. With Covid-19 bringing a bizarre end to her time at school, the upside is that her IT skills have rapidly and significantly improved as she teaches her final term remotely! Who would have thought…least of all Liz! We will greatly miss her fine Welsh humour (and Welsh cakes on St David’s Day) and her humility as she has been an absolute gem to work for and with. We wish her and David much love and good wishes, as together they embark on an exciting new chapter of life, no doubt full of fantastic adventures.
Martin Otero Knott
It was Socrates who said that ‘education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel’, and I know of no other teacher who has sought to embody this piece of ancient wisdom in their practice more than Martin. Since his arrival at Sevenoaks four years ago he has dedicated himself to facilitating the learning of our students through many important co-curricular initiatives. He also dedicated himself to Higher Education in the last year of his time here, focusing on US universities, and went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our students have the best possible opportunities after their time at Sevenoaks. He is leaving to become Head of Academic Enrichment at King Edward’s, Birmingham, a role in which he will excel. Nietzsche thought that one repays a teacher badly if one remains nothing but a pupil. The students of Philosophy, who are now no longer Martin’s pupils, have learned this from him and carry the lesson with them in everything that they do. But the concept of repaying him, they would say, is impossible, because the debt that they owe him is incalculable.
Chris Potts swept upon the scene in September 2016, and it was quickly apparent that this innately musical man would have a significant and long-lasting impact. An extraordinarily talented pianist and clarinettist, Chris’s natural energy and enthusiasm inspired people across all age groups, whether he was conducting Symphony Orchestra, masterminding the music for a production of Sweeney Todd, or galvanising over a hundred Lower School pupils to sing together on stage. He was also keen on encouraging students to experience music outside the school, often organising trips to concerts in London, and running a hugely successful choir tour to Tuscany. City of London Freemen’s School, where he is now Director of Music, must surely be delighted to have such an ambitious, exciting teacher in their midst. This charismatic, loyal colleague and friend is already much missed here at Sevenoaks.