The new school year will see Cundall Manor welcome a new headmaster. Absolutely Yorkshire meets Christopher James-Roll
Can you give us an overview of your career in education to date?
I graduated from Liverpool University in 1996 and went on to enjoy a career in financial services. I retrained in 2009 to pursue a passion for teaching and have since taught and led schools in both the state and independent sectors. As head of physics and housemaster at an independent boys’ school, I realised my passion for developing the whole child; as director of science and PE at a large state school on the Isle of Wight, the focus was on academic outcomes. I joined Sherfield School as director of teaching and learning in 2017 and was soon asked to take the reigns as acting headmaster. Since 2018 I have enjoyed the role of senior deputy head.
Why were you keen to take on the headship at Cundall Manor?
I have been fortunate to work in many outstanding environments, learning from a wide range of experiences and talented individuals. The philosophy at Cundall Manor School embodies a culture of empowering young people to grow into confident young adults in an environment where they have fun as they learn; the opportunity to lead such an exciting school was one not to be missed.
What will Cundall Manor be known for?
High quality teaching and learning linked to a broad, balanced extra curricula programme designed to bridge the traditional learning experiences with the development of character education.
What opportunities are offered outside of the classroom?
Cundall prepares children for life in modern society; the need for emotional awareness and life-skills is greater than ever. Learning outside of the classroom enriches a child’s experience as they see real-life applications of classroom learning. As we return to normal after the pandemic, Cundall pupils benefit from learning outside, including in our Wildwoods and across our 30 acres of parkland to exploring the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside, UK and overseas trips. Wherever they go, the purpose is to provide challenging and exciting experiences that will help set them up for success in life beyond school.
Are you looking to introduce anything new?
My particular passion is developing all-round, engaging learning experiences, so the development of a robust character curriculum, designed to build children’s skills for the future, will be a particular focus.
Is there one thing you cannot wait to be involved in?
The community. The school is at the very heart of it; parents of Cundall are passionate about the school and much of the success of a school depends upon the skill, knowledge and passion of the staff. I am keen to work with staff and pupils to be the best they can be. Oh, and the annual Go-Kart race of course!
What are your hopes for the new school year ahead?
I hope schools will be bold as we leave the pandemic behind. Communities must re-connect with confidence to work closely together again. This underpins success at Cundall where diversity is celebrated and kindness is central.