for a place
She started as a History teacher and PE coach, has planned typhoon evacuations and wants to make a positive difference to the lives of Blackheath High School students and their families. Find out more about our Head, Mrs Chandler-Thompson.
Tell us about your role at Blackheath High School.
What doesn’t it involve would probably give a shorter answer! A typical day might include some of the following: teaching a Global Perspectives lesson; delivering a speech to prospective parents; writing an article for the local press; meeting with a furniture supplier to discuss the new build; giving out certificates and stars at Juniors; meeting with neighbours about parking issues; planning the curriculum for the next academic year; interviewing Year 10 students about their plans for Sixth Form; making a five-year plan for maintenance of the school estate. Being a headteacher is never dull!
Tell us about your career path.
I arrived at Blackheath in 2014; the last four years have gone past in a flash! I started my teaching career in North London as a History teacher and PE coach. I taught at two North London independent day schools: Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls and North London Collegiate School (where I was Head of History and Politics). I then went slightly off-piste and was part of a start-up team founding a brand new co-educational boarding school on a small island off South Korea, called Jeju. I was Head of the Girls’ School there for three years.
How does your previous experience benefit the school?
I am incredibly lucky. All the schools I have worked in have been absolutely fantastic, although different, in their own way. From Korea I bring a broader sense of perspective; there I was planning typhoon evacuations and nuclear bomb threat alerts; that makes snow days less scary as a Headteacher! It also taught me that students are capable of more than we think. In Jeju, Korean native speakers learnt their entire curriculum in English and excelled; they did things they never thought they could. I think that is a brilliantly empowering thought that underpins my approach at Blackheath High School. In the North London schools, I really enjoyed the culture of aspiration and positivity; there was a real ‘why not’, ‘can do’ approach. Again, that’s something I hope I bring to all we do here at Blackheath High School.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Every day, I wake up in the morning and go into work knowing that what I do can make a positive difference to hundreds of students’ and families’ lives. That gives it real meaning when things get a little bit challenging!
What makes working at Blackheath High School so rewarding and enjoyable?
It is a cliché, but the students. I love that Blackheath High School embraces the quirky and the individual. Staff and students value diversity, they love and are proud of their community and there is a real sense of possibility here. I also love the way that staff and students are questioners; they don’t just accept the status quo; our brilliant Feminist Society is a great example of that.
What has been your biggest achievement at Blackheath High School?
As a Headteacher, you achieve nothing on your own, everything is a team achievement. I will be particularly proud of seeing the re-development through to its final conclusion though, as it has been a huge and exciting challenge for the school.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In term time, I like walking - it is good for the brain. I walk to school from Woolwich and I venture out into Kent at the weekends. I have been known to break into a run if the occasion demands it.
In the holidays, I travel whenever and wherever I can. Asia is my favourite destination, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia. I like to scuba dive or ski (although obviously not much skiing in SE Asia!).
Tell us something surprising about yourself.
I played rugby for a while at university, as a break from lacrosse. I was a hooker; I think that is pretty surprising!