Interview with the Head
JILL WALKER, THE NEW HEADMISTRESS AT MALTMAN’S GREEN SCHOOL
September 2020 marks the start of Mrs Walker’s headship at Maltman’s Green as she picks up the baton from Mrs Joanna Pardon who retires after fifteen years in post. Mrs Walker joins Maltman’s from the headship of St Nicholas Prep School in South Kensington, and before that she was Deputy Head at Glendower Prep. Mrs Walker has three children, the youngest about to start university, and her husband, Ben, is Headmaster of Lochinver House boys’ prep school in Hertfordshire. We thought we’d find out a little more about her…
what do you think makes Maltman’ S green stand out?
Its fantastic facilities and highly skilled teachers means that the school is able to deliver academic excellence and offer an unrivalled extra-curricular programme where each girl has the opportunity to enjoy finding her strengths and exploring her passions.
what does being a head mean to you?
Leading and serving a school community is a huge privilege – supporting families and enabling and encouraging staff and pupils to realise their potential.
What advice would you give to a new head?
Spend time meeting people, listening, building relationships with all members of the school community and not being hasty in making judgements in the first phase.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PARENTS LOOKING AT PRIVATE EDUCATION FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Go and visit schools, talk to the Head, think about the welcome you receive from all the people that you meet when visiting, can you picture your child in the school? Does the school reflect your own values and what is important to you?
WHY IS STE(A)M SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
We are living in a rapidly changing world. Traditionally the arts and sciences have only been delivered in schools as separate subjects. But, increasingly the learning in school needs to reflect what is going on in the real world – where scientists, engineers and mathematicians work collaboratively with designers and the creative industries, harnessing the power of technology to find innovative and novel solutions to problems. In these unprecedented times, where home learning has been an integral part of what we offer our pupils, we have seen how important it is to provide an evolving, innovative learning environment with ubiquitous access to technology. A vibrant and carefully crafted STEAM programme nurtures creativity and adaptability, builds self-confidence, the ability to work flexibly with others and fosters empathy and a socially responsible and outward looking mind-set. These are key skills and attributes our children will need to rely upon in the future.
WHO INSPIRED YOU TO TEACH?
I attended an all-girls grammar school. My English teacher was a quiet, self-contained and utterly inspiring woman who used to impart to us her ‘pearls of wisdom’ on a Friday afternoon. We would all lean forward eagerly, chin resting on our hand, hungry for what she would share. She said, “Girls, always have something for yourself”. I have carried this with me throughout life – as a working woman, as a wife and mother. My teacher helped me see that education has the power to transform lives, facilitates independence and opens up a world of choices and possibilities.
HOW DO YOU THINK A HEAD CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO AN INDIVIDUAL PUPIL?
By recruiting the best teachers, knowing each of their pupils as an individual, taking them seriously and encouraging and praising them, providing them with challenge and also support, working in partnership with their parents and creating a school environment where they feel happy and safe
What How would the students from st. Nicholas prep describe you?
High standards, enthusiastic, high energy (fast walking!), smiley and who loves to chat with them all.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved school and did a lot of music and dance as extra-curricular activities. School plays and concerts were big highlights for me and I wanted to be an actress in musical theatre.
What is your most useless skill?
I can tap dance!
what are you known for?
My enthusiasm, determination, rapid staccato walk, strong opinions, loud laughter and loyalty.
if you could have a superpower what would it be?
I loathe traffic jams – so I would love to be able to fly in order to get me to where I need to be as fast as possible.
what is your favourite book
As a child, I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, including ‘Little House on the Prairie’. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Love, Nina’ – a laugh out loud nostalgic memoire set in the 1980s, by Nina Stibbe.
WHAT IS YOUR real life superpower?
I can play any tune by ear on the recorder.
if you had three wishes what would you wish for?
- To stay young at heart.
- To fit more into each day.
- To run the London Marathon
are you an early bird or night owl?
A night owl – late night binges on Netflix are my guilty secret.
Are you a dog or a cat person?
Definitely dog – we had a labrador and springer spaniel as pets when I was growing up. Now we have a very docile whippet called Mitzy – who can run like the wind, but spends most of her day curled up sleeping on the sofa.
beaches or mountains?
That’s tricky. I love both! But, beaches probably just clinch it. Holidays on the little Greek island of Paxos are a great love of mine.