Caroline Townshend has been appointed as the new Head of Crosfields School, taking up her position from April 2023. We speak to Caroline Townshend, who will be the first female Head in Crosfields history
As a leading co-educational school in Berkshire, the appointment of Caroline Townshend demonstrates Crosfields School’s commitment to providing a broad and thorough education. This reflects their vision to empower each individual to reach their potential at Crosfields and beyond.
Can you offer us a potted history of Crosfields School?
Awarded independent preparatory status in 1957, Crosfields was originally a boys’ Quaker School with just 100 pupils. Following the decision to move to a co-educational model, Crosfields School welcomed girls from 2007 and now has a rich balance of boys and girls from nursery to Year 9. With the opening of the new Senior School building in September 2021, Crosfields is looking ahead to its first GCSE cohort achieving success. Crosfields School focuses on three core pillars: wellbeing, academic excellence and providing a breadth of opportunities through co-curricular activities.
What drew you to the role of Head at Crosfields School?
From the moment I saw the role of Head at Crosfields advertised, I knew that it was the perfect fit for me because this is a pivotal point in the development of Crosfields and I am incredibly excited to have been appointed! I can see the transformation Crosfields has already completed, not only with the opening of the new building, but also through the education it delivers to the children. I firmly believe in the importance of a strong all round educational provision and empowering each individual for who they are; both of which are at the heart of a Crosfields education. It is clear that Crosfields is a kind, welcoming school community and one which my family and I very much look forward to joining.
What are you looking forward to bringing to the role?
Much of my experience over the past eight years has been related to setting up schools, which I have enjoyed enormously. The launch of Crosfields Senior School, housed in a state-of-the-art new building, has been a real success and is an incredibly exciting area of development to which I know I can bring much experience. Following my studies in Psychology and Educational Neuroscience, I have always had a strong interest in the wellbeing of children and I am so pleased this is a central pillar of Crosfields. Leading a school through the COVID pandemic further reinforced the need for a comprehensive, innovative and well-resourced pastoral programme and I look forward to further developing this throughout all years at Crosfields School.
I very much look forward to working with the staff, parents and pupils to build on the strong foundations already in place ahead of the first cohort of Year 11 receiving their GCSE results in the summer of 2024.
When pupils start with you at three years of age, how do you look to instil a love for learning?
Children have a natural curiosity and love of learning, and we nurture this by providing engaging, first-hand experiences, within a safe and nurturing environment. Surrounded by caring adults who enjoy talking with the children and discovering their individual interests.
What are students prepared for when they move into the senior years?
Crosfields School recognises the importance of supporting students particularly at the point of transition. By offering Nursery to GCSE on one site we can ease concerns for children and their families. To support the transformation from Junior School pupil to Senior School student, the specialist teaching is delivered in an environment with the latest equipment, such as the Design and Technology suite, or new science labs. By equipping pupils with these fundamental skills, they are able to flourish within the Senior School environment.
Moreover, our focus on wellbeing and pastoral support through a dedicated house system allows us to really understand each individual and empower them to make the best choices moving forward.
When your students head into Senior School, what opportunities are provided?
With over 90 different co-curricular activities offered from Nursery to Senior School, we provide equal opportunities to all students to participate and explore their interests in a safe and nurturing environment. Our staff look to instil resilience and independence within all pupils as they transform into young adults. We use choice as a tool for empowering them and allowing them to discuss issues that directly impact them, for example, when the new Senior School building was opened in September 2021, students had the opportunity to share their ideas on the design of classrooms and the café style dining room (The Hatch). The Hatch is exclusively for the use of the Senior School students where they can enjoy breakfast, lunch and tea, and toast during their breaks.
There are high academic ambitions for all students, but there are equally lots of opportunities through co-curricular activities. The focus for the co-curricular activities is adjusted to reflect their transition to the Senior School. For example, students can take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and participate in Model United Nations and Entrepreneur Club.
What kind of things happen at Crosfields School outside the classroom?
Delivering a truly broad and thorough education, the co-curricular activities need to be equally engaging. With over 90 co-curricular activities available across the school, here is a flavour of what Crosfields has to offer outside of the classroom:
Forest School sessions from Nursery through to Senior School, which is completed across five designated areas surrounding the school.
Our state-of-the-art swimming pool enables us to offer swimming lessons starting from Nursery. Sport is an important aspect of life at Crosfields School with even the youngest children being taught by specialist teachers. Children can take part in many sports including cricket, hockey, netball, rugby, football, lacrosse, rowing and cross-country running as well as gymnastics. There are weekly matches against other schools. This year we even made cricket co-educational following a campaign from our Year 4 pupils.
There is a love of the creative arts and children can join choirs, orchestras and ensemble groups to express their passion.
Outside of school we encourage and support children entering external competitions such as public speaking, debating, maths challenges, choirs, and languages.
Residential and curriculum trips are also an important aspect of a Crosfields education. Residential trips are offered to children from Year 2 onwards, supported by a plethora of curriculum day trips from Nursery onwards.
You are a co-educational school – why do you feel mixing boys and girls is beneficial to their learning experience?
I have always worked in co-educational schools and firmly believe they provide the best preparation for life beyond school. Too often the only outcome compared between single sex and co-educational schools is academic results when there is so much more to school life which young people take forwards into the future. Boys and girls bring different perspectives and approaches to all areas of school life, benefitting both; diversity enhances creativity. In a world where we are trying to achieve equality for women and men, I believe co-education helps boys and girls, from a young age, appreciate each other’s strengths and develop a sense of mutual respect.
What is your future vision for Crosfields School?
As the Crosfields community grows and expands its educational provision for children and young people through to the end of GCSEs, my role is to ensure that we remain true to our mission: to provide an exceptional education which is broad, thorough and enjoyable, enabling children to make the most of themselves and be considerate of others. Schools are incredibly special communities that are about so much more than examination results. We have a responsibility to ensure the pupils leaving us at 16 are respectful, inquisitive and independent with a strong set of values and motivation to have a positive impact on society.
To visit the school please register your interest at crosfields.com