Oundle School headmaster to retire

Charles Bush with his wife Mary
Charles Bush with his wife Mary

Oundle School’s headmaster is retiring this summer after 10 years at the school’s helm.

Charles Bush arrived at Oundle in September 2005, following 12 years as headmaster of Eastbourne College.

Prior to that he was housemaster and head of mathematics at Marlborough College, head of mathematics at Abingdon School, and he taught initially at Aylesbury Grammar School.

He enjoyed his secondary education at Melbourne Grammar School and after a foundation year at Melbourne University, he read mathematics at Trinity College, Oxford.

Deputy head Daviona Watt said: “Thanks to Charlie’s extraordinary ability to lead a community and manage its administration, he leaves the School flourishing.

“On arrival in 2005, Charlie quickly sought to define his aims and confirm his vision.

“Twenty-seven Oxbridge offers in his final year placed Oundle second only to Winchester in the Rugby Group and is a fitting tribute to his commitment to the academic strength of the school.

“The outstanding success in the ISI (2008 and 2014) and Ofsted (2011) inspections is testament to his educational leadership. His highly personal and pastoral approach has confirmed his belief in the fundamental importance of a sense of community for pupils and staff if an institution is to thrive.”

‘Pace and purpose’ has been Mr Bush’s mantra and his omnipresence at events has confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that he practises what he preaches.

Getting to know his constituency and gaining an understanding of every facet of the school has remained at the heart of his approach throughout his 10 years.

He has cared about his pupils and their educational experience in the broadest sense, and he has made it his goal to develop a warm and personal partnership with parents and to make every child feel valued in a large school.

He has invested time in caring for the wider community too: getting to know the support staff and making a point of appreciating their work around the school as well as nurturing links with the town through a variety of channels.

He has constantly sought to engender in the pupils a sense of respect for the town, which belongs to the local community and which they are fortunate to share.

To support his pursuit of excellence, Mr Bush has placed a priority on recruiting high quality staff and investing in professional development.

Under his strategic leadership, the school has seen the completion of the design and build for SciTec for biology and chemistry, the refurbishment of the Needham Building for Physics, the Adamson Centre for Modern Languages, Old Dryden for English and the redevelopment of the Cripps Library.

He has taken a strong lead on completing the SciTec vision and has taken a keen interest in the planning and design for the SciTec Campus, which will be completed in summer 2016, as well as spear-heading an ambitious Sports MasterPlan over the coming decade, starting with the J M Mills Pavilion which opened this summer.

At the school’s speech day on July 4, when he was presented with an engraved bell and a portrait to be hung in the Great Hall, Mr Bush said: “I have taken more than I have given and learned more than I have taught.”

Mr Bush has been painted at the door of the chapel where he has traditionally stood over the past 10 years to greet school pupils and staff as they entered the building.

It is the first portrait of a school headmaster to be have been painted away from the study.

Mr Bush was also presented with a memory collage book from some of the families who have had one or more children at the school throughout his time as headmaster.

The gift was organised and presented by parent, Jonathan Alms.

Mr Bush has been loyally supported by his wife, Mary, who has herself been actively involved in the life of the school.

She has been a huge support at events near and far, hosting numerous functions and becoming a tutor in a girls’ boarding house.

Mr Bush said: “At the heart of Oundle are the pupils – talented, purposeful, engaging, hospitable, benign and friendly.

“They are generally bright, go-getters who seek success and achievement in a modest, understated manner.

“The easy, confident style of the Oundelian, without swagger or chip, is a prevailing feature that transcends generations.

“Pupils are wonderfully supported by a very capable staff.

“Chatting to Oundelians and having lunches with them in houses have been among the most enjoyable times.”

Sarah Kerr-Dineen takes up the position as the new head of Oundle School in September.

She said: “Oundle is a great school. It values individuals and seeks to provide for its pupils an education that will guide them for life.

“It promotes aspiration, ambition and innovation at the same time as the healthy development of decent young people.

“These are impressive characteristics on which to build and I look forward keenly to what is to come.”