After becoming the Principal of our partner school The John Wallis Church of England Academy during the pandemic, Damian McBeath also joined Benenden’s Governing Council earlier this year. Here, we get to know Damian a little better and share his plans for the future.
Could you tell us a little more about yourself and your career in education?
I started my career as a Drama specialist in London, having studied at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts prior to teaching training. In 2010, I had my first headship, opening a brand-new free school in White City. Ark Conway went on to become the first outstanding free school and the highest performing school in KS1 for four successive years, from 2012 – 2016.
Following this, I took on further positions as an Executive Headteacher and later a Regional Director for the children’s charity, Ark Schools, one of the largest Multi-Academy Trusts in the UK. Most recently, I became Principal of The John Wallis Church of England Academy in 2020 and joined the Benenden Council in January 2022.
Above all of this, I am father of two wonderful girls. Being a dad is my full-time hobby and commitment although in any spare time I get, I like to play sports, football, golf and rugby and listen to (sometimes even play) music. I am passionate about the performing arts and enjoy watching live performances.
Can you talk us through your main goals and aspirations for the TJWA while under your leadership?
Our vision is a simple one, we are committed to excellence, we believe in choice.
I believe that every student should leave the Academy with real, genuine choices in life. To achieve this, our pupils need the Academic grades, the self-discipline, and a wealth of experiences beyond their existing understanding of the world.
To achieve this there are five key areas which will be our focus for the years ahead:
- Develop the continuity of education through the 0-19 years Academy
- Ensure excellence in teaching and learning
- The Academy vision and values are embedded, behaviour is exemplary
- Develop and implement a digital and communications strategy
- Ensure students have the experience, confidence and qualifications to gain entry to the university of their choice or enter the world of work
It is an exciting time for everyone in the Academy. We feel we are at the start of something quite remarkable.
What are your thoughts on the partnership between our two schools and how do you envision this partnership evolving in the future?
The partnership with Benenden is truly unique. I have worked with a large number of schools who have developed partnerships but have never seen one so strong. We value your partnership and friendship because of the personal connections around a shared set of values. It is the power of these connections, at a personal level, which is so inspiring. I had the fortune to attend the CCF camp in Crowborough earlier this week and saw John Wallis and Benenden students working together overcoming all kinds of challenges. It was wonderful to see.
I want to build on this in the future. The partnership is so powerful because everybody gains from it, leaders, staff and pupils. The networks created and opportunities to collaborate are incredible. In future, I know there are lots of opportunities for further collaboration work: in the arts; sports; in academic subjects; in music and dance; and the performing arts. Lots and lots of opportunities.
You recently joined Benenden’s Governing Council, what is it that you enjoy the most about this particular role?
Being a council member is an absolute privilege. I was honoured to be asked and find the role equally fascinating and enjoyable. Specifically, I enjoy seeing the amount of thought and work that takes place behind the scenes. It reminds me of working backstage during a performance and witnessing how everything works. All the planning and preparation, all of the decisions and strategic thinking.
I like to challenge thoughts and ideas through questions and hope that my contributions (however small) are useful for the leaders of Benenden.