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NEWS > Alumnae News > Head of Careers Alison Matthews Retires

Head of Careers Alison Matthews Retires

After an LEH career spanning 30 years, we bid a fond farewell to long-time Head of Economics and Head of Careers Alison Matthews last term.

Alison Matthews writes: "So, it has been 30 years and three Headmistresses, and it has flown by, but my association with the school is even longer as my brother was a Hampton boy and several of my childhood friends attended LEH.

It is funny looking back because I wasn’t totally sure I wanted the job and when Miss Candy rang, I hid in my room and made my mother answer the call. The school was, as it is now, highly selective, and very successful and as a young teacher I thought it might be a very daunting place to work.

I quickly learnt that is was a fast paced, happy environment with lots of activities to enjoy. As a member of the Economics department, I had the privilege of working with Mrs Pat Robinson, a Cambridge graduate with a passion for subject.  We taught together for seven years before she retired, and Debbie Self arrived in the Economics department in 1999 and we have worked together ever since.

It was in the days of Miss Candy, and I was very lucky as I was allowed to choose Debbie. Miss Candy’s only comment - after saying, “let me know in the morning” - was “make sure you can work with them you could both be here a very long time”. Never was a truer word spoken and I have never had a moment of doubt that I had made the right decision.

I had the Head of Careers role added to my Head of Economics role in 2000 when Jenny Barnes retired. I have thoroughly enjoyed developing the Careers Teams and working closely with the Head of Sixth Form, firstly Brenda Painton and then Mark Tompsett. The other role that I have really enjoyed and found so rewarding was being a Sixth Form tutor and my last tutor group was my fifteenth.

People often ask if the school has changed a lot and the answer is it has and hasn’t. There was no doubt that it was an amazing school 30 years ago and it still is, but as you would expect it has moved on with the times.

I was trying to think of the changes, especially in my classroom. For most of my time at LEH my classroom was called 61 and was opposite the tower and looked out of the front of the school and the grass tennis courts in summer. The girls often referred to it as the cupboard.

My first sight of it was piled high with Financial Times from floor to ceiling and clearing it was one the first jobs Pat and I completed together.  It had only a white board for marker pens and nothing else, wooden floors and two rows of desks. There was a video at one point and eventually a smart board with all the mod cons. When the iPads were introduced, there was no need for students to leave their desks to draw diagrams on the board, as they could draw them on their iPads and mirror to the board.

Every Head has added a building, sometimes two, so expect another one when the new Head arrives.  The school colours were a sort of pillar box red under Miss Candy, which changed to a kind of burgundy with Mrs Low and returned to pillar box red with Heather Hanbury.

The carpet went on the walls and now, I believe, it is coming off.  There was a ‘The’ in front of Lady Eleanor Holles and the pattern of the timetables and breaks has changed three or maybe four times! You may remember that some of the timings for bells were a little unusual with 11.27am and 3.23pm and we also had trebles when I first arrived.

I think that what has stayed the same is the fantastic students, the lovely staff and the beautiful grounds especially the new meadow which has been absolutely gorgeous and planted to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

I have loved working at LEH and have so many happy memories of so many students through the years. I hope to keep in touch with many of you through Holles Connect."

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