Meet the head: Stephen Ilett at Port Regis
PUBLISHED: 10:29 10 October 2016
Stephen Ilett reflects on his first year as Headmaster of Port Regis and how the school’s caring staff, extensive facilities and rolling parkland help its pupils to thrive in the Dorset countryside
How do you introduce new pupils to their first experience of school life?
The main emphasis is on settling the children as quickly as possible. Children are encouraged to join us for a Taster Day and there is a Welcome Day for all new pupils in the Summer Term for those starting in September. Boarders usually have a gradual introduction - boarding a couple of nights a week progressing to weekly or full boarding. There are also Weekend Sleepovers when day pupils can join their boarding friends. These are, as you can imagine, enormous fun!
What do you think are the main benefits of a co-educational school?
Co-educational schools reflect the wider world and bring many social benefits that a single sex education can’t provide. Boys seem to be tamed by the civilising influence of the girls; girls benefit from the more relaxed approach of the boys. It’s a win-win situation.
Tatler described Port Regis as a ‘prep school with public school facilities’. What does this encompass?
The school is located in 150 acres of parkland and enjoys facilities that are second to none in the Prep School world. Extensive woodland with nature trails sits alongside lawns, several ponds and a lake, so that children can enjoy the space and freedom of the grounds. There are also 35 acres of games pitches, a nine-hole golf course, hockey astroturf, hard tennis and netball courts, a 25m indoor swimming pool, a rifle range and an indoor sports complex, which includes two sports halls. We also benefit from a superb custom built Music School and a state of the art DT facility.
What special qualities does Port Regis bring out in its pupils?
The warm, friendly and down to earth ethos of the school and the talented caring staff really brings out the best in each and every child. Walk through the classrooms, the playground or any of the boarding houses and you will sense the atmosphere of a very special place. The boys and girls are always so interested and interesting. You feel their determination to succeed and to enjoy life and each other’s company.
What role do extra curricular activities play in developing your pupils interests?
The Port Regis Hobby programme is justly renowned for its breadth and depth. These range from crafts and cookery to Pet Club and from board games to fencing, fishing, dance and circus skills. In addition to this our Forest School takes learning and experiences beyond the classroom and into our extensive grounds with carefully planned outdoor activities, all under close supervision, which are always a huge amount of fun!
What is your proudest moment so far?
There have been many wonderful moments in my first year at Port Regis. If I have to pick one it would be the Leavers’ Show at the end of the Summer Term which showcased the skills of our Year 8 pupils. It demonstrated what a talented and confident bunch they are, and I was incredibly proud of them all.
About Stephen Ilett
Stephen had a 20 year career in the City working for Lloyds of London, before entering the teaching profession 14 years ago. His first teaching post was at Caldicott, he was then Headmaster at Milbourne Lodge, Surrey for five years before becoming Headmaster at Port Regis in September 2015. His five children are now all in their twenties, so he and his wife Amanda have plenty of time to spend with their Port Regis ‘family’. Stephen’s passion is sport and you will find him by the side of a pitch whenever the opportunity presents itself, before enjoying one of the legendary Port Regis match teas!
Port Regis is a co-educational day and boarding school for children aged 3-13. It is located in 150 acres of stunning parkland in Shaftesbury, north Dorset. Find out more at portregis.com or call 01747 857914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.