Fiona Long, Head at Herries Co-Ed preparatory School, talks Cookham, her views on learning and how coming from a long line of teachers has shaped her role.
Tell me about you and your family/where are you from?
I grew up in the Middle East as my father was an oil engineer and I attended boarding school in Dorset. My brother is a naval architect who travels the world. I have two sons. The youngest is in his final year at UCL and he will be taking a play to the Edinburgh Fringe again this summer. My other son is a Systems Engineer for an Aerospace company in Manchester.
What are your first impressions of Cookham?
My father once owned a houseboat in Chertsey and I have always loved the river. My brother and sister-in-law live just over the Oxfordshire border. My boys feel we have the best of everything here, with the woods, the river, the centrality with the railway line and the proximity of London. We are members of the church and sailing club. We have found that the local community is very friendly.
Tell me about your vision for the school...
There been many exciting developments, including extra teaching spaces, an outdoor learning area, new music room and composition facilities, more ipads and an innovative timetabled enrichment programme for KS2.
You have come from Sherborne Prep. How was that? What prompted you to make the move to Cookham?
I have many fond memories of The Prep and I still maintain a link, but it was time for a new adventure and the next step in my career. We visited the school when the post was first advertised and were immediately struck by its magical charm.
Can you tell me about some of your views on learning?
My approach is simple: Happy children achieve.
Tell me about the school environment... any interesting traditions?
It is wonderfully appropriate to set a school in the home of an author who is so well known for conveying the golden days of childhood. Grahame lived here when he wrote The Wind in the Willows. He began telling the story to his son, which was based on inspiration from the local landscape, buildings and residents. The history of the school is fascinating.
What's the best school dinner?
Our healthy lunches are all excellent, as they are freshly prepared on the premises by our talented cook, Mrs Pegg. The best thing about them is the range of healthy choices.
What are your views on managing tech? And homework?
Homework time is devoted to core skills that require daily repetition, such as multiplication tables, spellings and, of course, reading. We are lucky to have a well-equipped IT suite and the children use iPads to enhance learning across the curriculum.
Any famous alumni?
There have been many children of writers, broadcasters and even sporting heroes. Our children have gone on to run successful businesses, to become musicians, artists and engineers.
Any special events coming up and any open days?
Our next open day will be on Thursday 27th June, but prospective parents are welcome at any time with an appointment.
What's the best and worst part of your job? Do you love doing what you do – are you fulfilling a childhood dream?
There are generations of teachers in my family. I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of my varied role, but I enjoy spending time with the children most of all.