Meet Mr Stuart Douch, the Headmaster of West Sussex independent school Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School ...
Hello Mr Douch, tell us about your role at Sompting Abbotts Prep School
I'm the Headteacher, Head of English, History and Drama and the Designated Safeguarding Lead at West Sussex private school Sompting Abbotts.
What's your educational background?
I hold an MA in Modern Literature, Culture and Creative Writing from the University of Kent and a BA in English and Art from Canterbury Christ Church University College. I studied at Lancing College before this, having received an excellent education at Sompting Abbotts myself.
What did you do before joining Sompting Abbotts as a staff member?
I'm a qualified printmaker. I used to be a writer employed by the government to set up writing and reading groups in Kent and this made me think about teaching as a career. I taught KS3 and GCSE at Shoreham College for two years before joining Sompting Abbotts as Head of English and I became headmaster in 2012.
What drives you as headmaster at Sompting Abbotts?
Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School is a Sussex independent school that offers a genuinely caring and family setting for children from their entry into primary school (reception and nursery) through to Year 8.
Our school is located amidst incredible grounds – beautiful fields and woods – that our children play in during supervised break-times. It provides amazing outdoor learning, forest-school activity and nature discovery opportunities. When you're a child, the environment that surrounds you is so important I think, as is the chance to 'be kids' in a safe but unstructured and creative way.
At the end of Year 8, our children are ready to go to their next school. We prepare them for that school in the best way possible with excellent pastoral and academic grounding.
We're not a designated feeder school (so our children move on to a mix of excellent senior schools rather than being 'funnelled' to just one). Our independent stance assures our parents that we can genuinely help them decide what the best next step is for each individual child, according to their interests, personality type and academic ability.
Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School is a West Sussex independent school that achieves excellent scholarship and Common Entrance results for our children. That's down to three things: we get to know and understand each child's strengths (and, yes, lesser strengths) in depth; we then identify and foster their unique potential, and we provide very individualised – you could say bespoke – learning for each child.
What do you contribute to the school in the extra-curricular sense?
I've got an eclectic bunch of interests. I'm passionate about Saxon and Viking history and that feeds into the History clubs I offer. They're popular too.
I also write the annual school play. Directing and writing is a big part of me and the children love it and give so much. I see them stretch themselves and overcome fears and become more confident when we all get enthused by a production and that's heartening. I know that the kind of team collaboration and performance skills the children gain from the experience will be translated to many other applications in their future lives. There's a lot of truth in that 'all the world's a stage' ...
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Sompting Abbotts?
So much! But mostly that through working with children, I keep learning.
Finish this statement from your personal viewpoint of teaching: "A really good education at Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School means a child will learn ...."
... how to be themselves in a decent and considerate manner; how to grow and progress towards their goals.
Tell us something we don't know about you!
I've got four cats; I can speak six languages; fix vintage Moog synthesisers and am an Irishman who hates potatoes.