Meet the new head of Saint Felix School
The Inspired Learning Group are excited to welcome Matthew Oakman, who is joining Saint Felix School as their new head. With his extensive background in education and strong enthusiasm for his role, we look forward to seeing the contributions that he will make as he steps into his new position.
To better understand his background, we have conducted an interview with Matthew to get to know him better. Keep reading to find out more:
Tell us a little bit about your background in education!
As a student, I loved school. I had eleven wonderfully happy years at the Perse School in Cambridge and the idea of going into teaching was always at the back of my mind. When I finished my degree in History at Oxford University, I wasn’t sure what was next and it was either journalism, the world of finance or teaching. It my Gap Year after university, I taught English as a foreign language and loved it. It inspired me to apply for a PGCE and after a year back at Oxford, I started teaching Politics and History at Bryanston School in Dorset. After three fantastic years there, I moved to Wellington College where I ended up spending the next quarter of a century – never the plan! I was lucky enough to take on a wide array of roles at Wellington which has given me an amazing opportunity to experience different elements of school life; Head of Oxbridge, Head of Tutoring, Director of Sport, President of Common Room, Deputy Head Academic and most recently as Senior Master.
What is something that drew you to Saint Felix School?
There are so many reasons but the most compelling was its potential. Set in the most beautiful of rural and coastal locations, it has the chance to become the very best all-through co-educational boarding and day school in East Anglia. I am excited to take Saint Felix on this journey harnessing the natural environment to create an exciting and compelling educational experience.
How would your previous students describe you?
I would like to think they would say that I was always an interesting teacher; never afraid to share opinion and debate the topics that matter. A teacher who cared and enjoyed their company.
What have you been most proud of in your teaching career?
Firstly, it would be making an IB a success at Wellington as Deputy Head Academic with 51% of the students choosing this curriculum and an average of over 41 points in my final year in that post. Secondly, it would be winning the U15 Daily Mail Rugby Cup as the coach and Director of Sport beating Millfield whilst we also won the Under 18 Competition on the same day.
Plus being appointed as Head of Saint Felix!
What are the qualities of a successful leader?
It is so important to show compassion and kindness to all. Great schools thrive on positive relationships that are built on trust; these are the qualities that I will be looking to instil. It is also the case that empowering others is key; no one leader can make the difference without the right people around them who feel trusted to make decisions and take risks.
What is something that you’ve found to be unique to Saint Felix?
It is such a caring and nurturing environment. It is a home from home where the students feel they can be themselves and enjoy their educational journey.
How do you think a head can make a real difference to an individual pupil?
By showing that they care and being available. Any Head has to remember what is really important for the students and see them doing it.
What do you think your biggest challenge will be ahead of your new role?
There are many challenges ahead but they will all provide opportunities and great learning experiences for all involved and especially me.
Who/what inspired you to teach?
My History teacher – Mr Roberts. Fascinating stories and a great person.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A journalist working in the world of sport and horse racing in particular.