Philippa Mills was born and brought up in Ely, Cambridgeshire. She has a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Sheffield and trained to be a teacher at Homerton College, Cambridge. She took up her position as Principal of CIS in the summer of 2017, having previously been Directora of The British School of Vila-real, another International Schools Partnership school, in Spain. Before moving abroad to take up this Headship she was Head of Boarding at Monmouth School for Girls. Philippa is married to Roger and has two daughters, aged 15 and 9.
Who/what inspired you to become a teacher?
Originally, I did not have any interest in being a teacher and on leaving University was intent on using my degree in Modern Foreign Languages to become a highflying international company director. However, I soon bored of the tedium of office life and decided to venture into the world of education, taking up what I thought would be a temporary job in a small Prep School in North Devon, teaching languages and working as a boarding tutor. I was immediately drawn into the energetic, colourful and inspiring atmosphere of life in education and by half term I was hooked. The rest, as they say, is history.
What achievement are you most proud of as Head?
I am extremely proud of the students at CIS, who are independent, resourceful and active learners. From a very early age they are curious about the world in which they live and I am continually impressed by their determination to achieve the very best in everything that they undertake. At CIS we also place a significant importance on citizenship, teamwork and being a part of a caring and tolerant society. There is a mutual respect between all members of our community and we embrace, and welcome, a wide range of cultures and religions. The school is fortunate to have a team of talented, dedicated and highly professional teachers and support staff, all of whom work tirelessly together to ensure that learning and teaching are of the very highest quality possible for all of our students.
What does a successful school look like to you?
To me, a successful school is easily identified, not by the fabric of the building or of the range of facilities on offer, but by students who are clearly engaged and happy, approaching their day to day lives with purpose and a thirst for knowledge. The first 30 seconds spent visiting a classroom will tell you pretty much all you need to know about this. Are the children engaged and focused on what they are doing? Are they busy learning or just busy being busy? Are they safe and happy? For me, these are the fundamental questions that should lie at the heart of all educational establishments. Then there is the icing on the cake, which is the eight-part choir singing evensong at St Paul's Cathedral, the sporting successes against local rival schools, the marvellous drama productions, etc. A lovely, well-equipped building in which to live and learn is also highly desirable, of course, but it is amazing what you can do with colourful and well-placed displays whilst you are waiting for your classroom to be repainted. What really and truly matters is that a happy and fulfilled child will learn, whereas an unhappy, frustrated one will struggle.
What is the most important quality you want every child to have when they leave your school? And why?
My educational vision is rooted in the belief in the power of learning. We live in a rapidly changing world in which the priorities of leadership, citizenship and employability are constantly being challenged. My mission, therefore, is to lead my staff in preparing our students for this future and to ensure that when, one day, they leave our school, each student possesses the qualities that typify successful people in a world of rapid change and development. By focusing on the characteristics of effective learning I believe that at CIS we develop high-level and vital skills amongst our students, continually providing a personalised approach to learning and ensuring that each student has the determination and confidence to face the next step of their lives.
Please give 5 words to describe the ethos of your school.
Caring, energetic, open-minded, diverse and stimulating.
This school is independently managed and its admission criteria may be selective. There is no set catchment area as pupils are admitted from a wide variety of postcodes and, in the case of boarding schools, from outside the UK. Contact the school directly or visit their website for more information on Admissions Policy and Procedures.
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