Now, I must confess, the title of the role has taken a little while to sit comfortably with me. As a teacher and someone who has run a pre-prep, a junior department, and a boarding house, being defined by my husband’s role, is something that I have battled with. I have brainstormed alternative titles like ‘Headmaster’s Right-Hand Person’ or ‘Chief Encouragement Officer (CEO)’ but I keep coming back to introducing myself as the ‘Headmaster’s Wife’.
My job is a delightful whirlwind of diversity, which is probably why finding a single designation/label to encapsulate it all is like searching for a needle in a haystack (or lost property). A typical day will start with waking up our youngest boarders and helping them get ready for their day. We all then gather for breakfast as a big, happy family. Then I head down to our beautiful pre-prep and start the day there with the staff briefing, meeting and greeting families as they arrive and then a highlight for me is being able to take the pre-prep assembly.
If luck is on my side, I get to spend some time in the classrooms or supporting staff with initiatives that need an extra pair of hands. I might then whizz to a meeting with our wonderful and extremely dedicated matron team, or catch up with the school nurses. Marketing and events are also a large part of my role, so I might meet with our Head of Marketing to discuss upcoming events and then liaise with our catering team about what we can offer. Lunch is always a family affair, with a traditional ‘family service’ style offering here at Aysgarth School.
I also have the pleasure of hosting every tour for prospective families, alongside the Head (aka my husband), to ensure we convey that all-important ‘family feel’ loud and clear! As a member of the senior management team, I assist the Head in making strategic decisions.
Evenings are filled with activities galore, ranging from golf to shooting, athletics to swimming. I personally run an evening cookery club, where our boys get a taste (pun intended) of developing this vital life skill. As the day draws to a close, I will help the boys settle into a quieter evening routine that might include Lego, a story, or origami; something to relax us all before bedtime. Just like at home, teeth brushing is strictly enforced and bedside chats are encouraged.
It’s a role that I love and one that is hugely rewarding. It’s heavily steeped in pastoral care with the happiness and wellbeing of our pupils at the forefront. Attending the School Council meetings is a privilege, and I can then help facilitate their requests and suggestions, encouraging a strong pupil voice.
Some people reading this might be wondering, ‘Could I work seven days a week with my spouse?’ Well, I think that a good marriage is one where each partner secretly suspects that they got the better deal. We have a deep respect for each other professionally and trust in each other’s abilities. As a team, my husband and I offer different, but hopefully complementary, skills.
Whilst he meticulously scrutinises details, I might be found releasing an impromptu dog walk with a group of boys; he delivers beautiful Chapel services and is great at networking with Head’s of Senior schools, whilst I couldn’t be happier reading a bedtime story to our boarders or hosting a social event.
The thing we undoubtedly have in common is a desire to provide a loving family environment to which our parents can happily entrust their sons. One person will never be the full package, but hopefully, between us, we are closer to achieving that as a pair. As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”