Meet our Head

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Rachel Thompson will be the new Head of the junior school when it opens in September 2022. Rachel is currently the Head of Prep at City of London School for Girls and has over 16 years' experience in primary education. We sat down to talk to Rachel about this exciting new project and to hear her plans for the new junior school.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

My mum was a primary school teacher and she inspired me with her dedication, enthusiasm and steadfast belief in the ability of education to improve lives. She inspires me still: she is so positive and has a great sense of fun, and she is always learning something new – these are traits that all good teachers should have, and she is one of the very best! I didn’t plan to go into teaching, but as part of my dissertation I went into primary schools to research the geography of film through the eyes of children, and I was hooked.

After graduating from the University of Durham, I spent three very happy years teaching in a primary school in rural Japan and when I returned to the UK, teacher training was a clear next step. There is so much variety and creativity in teaching: no two days nor indeed two hours are the same, and yet you operate within well-established rhythms of the school year. It’s a lovely combination. As a school leader, I love that I have the privilege of creating a community of children, parents and staff and building a sense of place and belonging where people can learn and grow. Teaching is a true vocation for me and I think I have the best job in the world!

What do you find most exciting about the new school?

Working with the architects is an absolute joy – we are able to reconfigure the space inside the former City School of Law building at 4 Gray’s Inn to create a modern, child-friendly, accessible school building. Classrooms will be light and bright, and our specialist teaching spaces will offer the children really exciting and ambitious learning spaces. The library is being designed at the heart of the school – it will be the first thing you see as you come in the door – and I can’t wait to see it full of children, books and art.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

It’s impossible to choose, so I won’t, but I will say that as a genre wordless picture books never lets you down. Work by the likes of Anthony Browne, David Wiesner and Aaron Becker generates such rich thinking and discussions amongst readers. We can learn to read so well without words; visual literacy is a really important skill to master and there’s lots of fun to be had learning it.

How would you describe a typical pupil of the junior school?

There is no such thing as a typical pupil! We want to see a real mix of learners at our school, with children from all over London and from all different families coming to learn with us. I hope that collectively the pupils will be curious, kind and ready for an adventure but there is certainly not one type of child that we are looking for.

What do you hope to bring from your experience as Head of Prep at CLSG?

I’ve been the Head of Prep at CLSG since 2017. I’ve learnt a lot since taking on the role: the importance of listening, the need to be flexible and why it’s vital to always keep 20% in reserve for when the unexpected inevitably happens. The Prep is a really happy place, where girls love to learn and have fun, and the staff are dedicated, creative and really engaged with the pupils and their lives. I hope to bring the great relationships that we have created between staff, parents and children to the new site so that all our new pupils can thrive in the same way.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A wise five-year-old once told me, ‘We don’t lose, Mummy, we win or we learn’. It turns out Nelson Mandela said it first, but whoever it was they were absolutely on to something. It’s a phrase I have repeated to myself and others time and time again. It speaks to such a simple truth. We are always learning, especially when things don’t go as we had planned or hoped, and even when they do!

What do you hope that pupils will take from their experience at the junior school?

When our pupils move on at the end of their time with us, I hope that they will be happy, confident and respectful young people, ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of life at senior school. I hope they will make lifelong friendships, and a lifelong love of learning, with them. I hope they will take a strong sense of their value in the world, and an understanding of their ability to shape the future through their own efforts and actions.

How would you describe your ideal Sunday?

My ideal Sunday is probably quite far removed from my actual Sunday, which tends to involve a lot of hanging about in fields, cheering on my two sons as they take part in various sports in various parts of London! In an ideal world, Sunday would begin with silence, good coffee and the papers. A walk (or very slow run) through Greenwich Park and along the Thames Path to blow away the cobwebs before lunch, and then home for a potter about the kitchen with a good podcast for company. A game of Scrabble before bed would be the very dream, but more often than not it’s a last-minute scramble for matching socks, missing ties and forgotten homework: happy chaos reigns, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

What makes the junior school unique?

Our beautiful location, the links to our senior schools, the facilities both within and beyond the school building, our wonderful staff, and, hopefully, your child!

Grays Inn School

Learning

We will place kindness and compassion at the heart of what we teach and offer a modern, forward-thinking and academically rigorous education which will enable children to be creative, collaborative and independent thinkers.

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Wellbeing

Children will leave the junior school ready to thrive at our senior schools, equipped with skills, experiences and friendships that will help them flourish throughout their lives.

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Admissions

City Junior School is a unique place to learn, and we are delighted that you are considering joining us. We aim to make the admissions process as seamless and transparent as possible. This section of our website reflects the most up-to-date information and dates for entry in the coming academic year.

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