Students, governors, staff and old friends were among distinguished guests at New Hall School recently to honour Katherine Jeffrey in her twentieth anniversary year as Principal of the school.
The event began with a celebratory Mass in the school’s historic chapel, presided over by the Rt Rev Alan Williams SM, Bishop of Brentwood, with concelebrants Bishop Emeritus Thomas McMahon, Abbot Christopher Jamison OSB, Fr Martin Hardy and Fr Paschal Uche. The celebration included the premiere of a specially-commissioned Psalm of Trust, You Are My Refuge, sung by Head Girl, Felicity, with music by Christopher Walker.
Since taking up the post of Principal in 2001, Mrs Jeffrey has transformed New Hall School from a boarding school for 500 girls to a top-performing co-educational school for 1,500 students aged 1-18. She was instrumental in adopting the diamond model of education at New Hall in 2006 whereby girls and boys are educated together up to the end of Year 6 and in the Sixth Form, and in single-sex classes between the ages of 11 and 16. This led to New Hall receiving the accolade of Outstanding Strategic Initiative in the 2011 Independent School Awards.
Among her many achievements as Principal, Katherine Jeffrey led New Hall to become the first independent school in the country to sponsor a state primary school (Messing Primary School). In 2019, New Hall opened a purpose-built nursery to support staff and parents, Katherine describes this as “the nursery I wish had been there for my children”.
At dinner following the Chapel service speakers paid tribute to Katherine’s 20 years of service to the school, including a tribute from Dr Miriam Edelsten, Chair of Governors: “Katherine’s vision for providing an inspiring all-round education, with, at its heart, the Catholic ethos with respect for other beliefs and cultures, remains undimmed, in fact is constantly evolving to embrace new ideas and opportunities as appropriate.”
Bishop Alan said: “May I offer my grateful congratulations to Katherine Jeffrey on the occasion of achieving 20 years of leading the school community at New Hall. During these years so much has changed in the world of education at large but, wonderfully, at New Hall this has been a time of remarkable growth and innovation under Katherine’s headship.
“At the heart of this has always been the Christian message founded on the charism of the courageous religious sisters who founded the School in 1642 believing that the encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ is one that transforms lives and leads all people to greater understanding, confidence and joy.”
Alongside its successful academic programme, New Hall School encourages students in charitable work and giving, holding fundraising events throughout the year in support of a range of charities and running the successful New Hall Voluntary Service, with which all students are involved during their time at the school.
New Hall has an excellent music and performing arts provision and fantastic sports facilities and training programmes. The boarding and day school for students aged 1-18 has a Catholic foundation and ethos, which welcomes those of all backgrounds. The strong pastoral care structure at the school supports students in their endeavours, allowing them to achieve success in a wide variety of fields.