New Headmaster for January 2015

Dear Parents, Children, Staff and Friends

I have some important news to share with you regarding the appointment of a new headmaster, and I want to share it before we meet on Speech Day. It is important to remember that the process we have undertaken recently to find a new leader for the OBH community was precipitated by a difficult and sad set of personal circumstances for John and Clare Brett, and as we announce the appointment of John’s replacement, I want to acknowledge all the work the Brett’s have done and continue to do in shaping and driving our happy, thriving school community. The focus for this coming weekend will be on celebrating our current success and their contribution, but given our desire to ensure a smooth and successful handover, the Board of Governors is happy to announce that we have found an outstanding candidate to take OBH forward from January 2015.

Mr Tom O’Sullivan will join OBH as Headmaster in the Lent term. Tom joins us from Mowden Hall Prep School in Northumberland, part of the excellent Cothill Schools Trust, which also includes Cothill, Ashdown House and Sauveterre.  Tom has been Deputy Headmaster for 6 years and is Head of Science.  After graduating from Durham with a law degree, he worked in the retail and pharmaceutical industry gaining invaluable commercial experience but after a few years recognised that his real interest lay in education (not surprising given his family background in teaching). He gained his PGCE from Cambridge and before Mowden, he taught at the Beaudesert school in Gloucestershire.  He has successfully raised academic standards at Mowden at both Common Entrance and in terms of Scholarships, and exam results attest to this. He is a firm believer in the importance of strong links throughout all tiers of the school and has introduced innovations to Mowden such as a whole school performance where each member of the school community can play a part. At OBH, we believe strongly in the importance of our Pre-Prep. Tom shares this commitment and we believe he will help us strengthen further the sense that we are one OBH community.  He is a keen sportsman and places great value in maximising the use of the natural facilities that abound at OBH. He is committed to the boarding ethos that lies at the heart of a school like OBH and has direct practical experience of how to maintain and strengthen the appeal of that offer while recognising the realities of being in a rural setting. Finally, and importantly, Tom brings with him a clear educational ethos focused on ensuring every child maximises his or her potential.

Tom is the outstanding candidate in a very strong field of applicants – clearly the reputation and appeal of OBH was a significant factor in attracting good candidates. After a rigorous process where the shortlisted candidates visited the school several times and met with members of the SMT, Governors and some of the children, Tom’s all round qualities – including a palpable sense of energy and a bias to action – were evident to all.

Tom’s impact at Mowden can be seen at many levels – improving academic standards, increasing pupil numbers, increasing boarding numbers, a broader array of successful senior school applications and many others achievements – and these are all things we are confident he will bring to OBH. Above all, he understands that what defines a successful school is happy children. Tom will join a school full of happy children and we believe strongly that he can build on those strong foundations and help us fulfil the ambition we have for the school.

With Tom’s help and supported by the Brett’s, as well as an excellent management team, we now focus on ways to ensure a smooth transition through the Michaelmas term, in preparation for his arrival in January.  This will hopefully include a number of visits to the school and a chance for parents and children to meet him. As we have details of this plan, I will make them clear to all.

For now, we should return to focus on the end of a busy and successful summer term. On Saturday, John and I will have the chance to celebrate a school that continues to thrive. Thank you again for your continuing enthusiasm and support for the school, and I hope to see many of you at Speech Day.

Yours sincerely,


Nick Bullen

Chairman of Governors


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