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New headteacher at Saint Felix aims to merge modern education with tradition and heritage

From September 2016, the 120-year-old Saint Felix School, Southwold will be led by new head James Harrison, who at just 33 years old has been promoted to the top job at the school.

He takes over from Fran D’Alcorn, who has been at Saint Felix for over forty years. Some may say that this gives him large shoes to fill, but James feels more than ready for the challenge.

His credentials are certainly strong: he is currently Deputy Head at the school, as well as Principal Examiner of A Level Ancient History training examiners across the country, and he joined St Felix after positions as Head of Classics and Housemaster at Bootham School, York and as Head of Latin at Barnard Castle School, Co. Durham. His personality is also well-matched to the school’s ethos, with a focus on the pupil-centred view of the educational process, and a firm belief in high standards for staff development.

Founded in 1897, Saint Felix has undergone a number of significant changes since that time, including expansion to include nursery and pre-preparatory departments, and to become co-educational. James is incredibly proud of the school’s heritage, and its traditions but does not feel bound by them. “Our school ethos is to offer the opportunities and resources to provide each pupil with a high-quality and well-rounded education. I am particularly proud of the ability that we have within the school to champion the individual by cultivating each pupil’s own personality”. The school boasts a 100% pass rate at A level (based on 2015 results), and its boarding houses are full. Subjects with particularly strong performances include Mathematics, Latin and Classics, Arts and Textiles, Science, Photography and Drama, supporting the broad spectrum approach to education.

“I have a huge respect for the school’s history, but I do not feel bound by it, and I am lucky to feel the full support of staff and parents in taking up the role of head. My overall ambition is to successfully merge tradition with future development,” he continues. “St Felix has a solid and very stable base from which to grow, and I am wholly committed to my future at the school, to its development and ongoing success”. James and his family live on site at the school, and his three children, aged 9, 7 and 2 all attend. This personal insight into the calibre of the education on offer has further deepened his commitment to Saint Felix. “I have seen at first hand how my own children have flourished as individuals, and how much they have learnt from being at Saint Felix”, he says.

As a close personal friend as well as an inspirational predecessor, Miss D’Alcorn’s influence is certain to last for some time to come. Keen to continue the significant strides that she has taken to ensure that Saint Felix pupils are fully prepared to meet the challenges that they will face living in a rapidly changing world, Mr Harrison is also a champion of modern technology and its place in 21st century education. “Children need to understand the positive aspects of technology including social media. It shouldn’t be a threat to their present or future, and it’s part of our role as educators, alongside parents, to ensure that we teach children accordingly”.

Mr Harrison takes up his new role as Headteacher from September 2016. Any parents who would like to find out more about Saint Felix are welcome to attend the forthcoming Open Morning on Saturday 7th May, 10am – 12.30pm. There will be an opportunity to have a guided tour of the school and stunning grounds, and visit relevant departments (Nursery, Pre-Prep, Prep and/or Senior) as well as to speak to teaching staff who will be happy to answer any questions. The morning will include a presentation from the Head, musical recitals, sports and a variety of departmental activities and exhibitions for all age groups. For further information or to arrange a visit, please contact the Registrar, Miss Melissa Bridgman, by telephone on +44 (0) 1502 727048 or by email at mbridgman@stfelix.co.uk.