Voice of Quinton House Alumni – Sophie Hemmington
Hear from Sophie Hemmington, who was a Quinton House Student from 1993-2000.
We’ve recently been catching up with some of our alumni from across the years and discussing with them their time at Quinton House School and how it prepared them for their life beyond. The latest in this series is with Sophie Hemmington who was with us for seven years, and is currently a Deputy Principal of a primary school in New Zealand
When were you at Quinton?
1993-2000. I joined in my second year of secondary school when I was 12 years old. I left in 2000 at the end of sixth form, ready to go off to university. During my first year of secondary school, I attended another school where I was bullied. My parents wanted me to attend a school where I was seen as a person not a number, and where people looked out for each other like a family. Quinton House was the perfect fit and I stayed for 7 happy years.
What subjects did you most enjoy?
When I attended QHS, the curriculum was quite structured. This meant I experienced subjects that I may not have otherwise chosen and broadened my knowledge of different areas. I loved Art because it allowed me to experiment with creativity and imagination and English. I studied some of the great classics which led me to develop a real love of classical literature – not a bad foundation for my English Literature degree later.
The great thing about learning at Quinton House was the flexibility. If you felt that you were less suited to a subject, the teachers always worked with you to design a plan that would work for you based on your strengths and their knowledge of how you worked best. Because of this, I always felt successful and that my thoughts and opinions had been listened to. I left school with 12 GCSEs and 3 A-Levels and this opened a variety of career paths in various industries.
What skills did Quinton teach you?
To believe in yourself and strive to achieve whatever it is you want to do. Learning was sometimes challenging but being in a supportive and encouraging environment taught me to be resilient and determined. I also learnt that it was ok not to be great at everything because there is always someone around you that can help you out. Looking back I would say I have Quinton House to thank for my great work ethic, solution-based attitude and having high expectations of myself and others.
What was the most valuable thing about your time at Quinton?
The ‘family’ culture taught me to value each person as an individual and to see the positives in everything. Because it is such a small school you get to know everyone and the opportunities to collaborate and engage with peers across the whole school are truly valuable both academically and socially. Being a Quinton House student also taught me the importance of being organised, polite and well-presented. This are values that have stood me in good stead throughout my life and I endeavour to instil in my own students.
What career did you go into?
Originally when I left school, I wanted to be a journalist. I worked hard at university and won a journalism scholarship at one of the country’s leading publishing houses. After a while, I felt I wanted a career that enabled me to have a positive impact on others and retrained to become a primary school teacher. Over the last 12 years I have had a number of roles from classroom teacher to Literacy consultant at the University of Auckland.
Now I am Deputy Principal of a primary school in New Zealand and focus on curriculum design and student achievement. I have the opportunity to travel the world and work with numerous educators, researchers and policy makers, who are working towards developing a world-leading education system in New Zealand.
How did you time at Quinton shape/support that career?
I’ve modelled my teaching style and principles on those I experienced at Quinton House. Whether I’m building a school culture, mentoring and coaching staff or supporting students, I always draw on my experiences at Quinton to help me achieve positive outcomes and be the best teacher/leader I can be.
No two days are ever the same and some days are more challenging than others. Therefore, I have to think on my feet, be adaptable and problem-solve – all skills that teachers nurtured when I was at school.
What advice would you give Quinton students?
Quinton House School is a very special place, unlike any other school I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a lot). Treasure your time here, make life-long friends and take every opportunity that comes your way. Even when things push you outside of your comfort zone, take a risk because at least you can say you’ve tried. One of my oldest school friends emigrated to New Zealand at the same time as me and 20 years later, we still spend time reminiscing over our days at Quinton, with a big smile on our faces.
Any other comments to share with us
After having quite a rocky start to my High School years at another school, Quinton House really helped me to have a successful secondary school experience. The sense of family, the desire for excellence and the acceptance of my individuality allowed me to thrive and reach my potential. I have recently started my own art studio after not producing any artwork since school. Often I get asked where I learnt to paint and my answer is, “School taught me all I needed to know”, so thank you Quinton House. I can realise one of my dreams because of what you taught me.
Thank you, Sophie.
We host regular open days which give you a whole morning of finding out about Quinton House, our students, the teachers and lots more. Or if you’d prefer a more informal discussion then we also hold regular Meet the Principal mornings where you can come and see the school, speak with the Principal and ask any questions that you may have.
Call our Admissions Registrar on 01604 684828 to find out more and to book a visit .
Published on: 19th February 2020