Senior Management Team

Samanatha Price
Samantha Price
Headmistress

Samantha Price was educated at Malvern Girls’ College and Edinburgh University, where she read History of Art (with modules of European History). Having graduated, she joined the Tate Britain and was responsible for marketing for Members and Patrons and became heavily involved with the Patrons of what is now the Tate Modern.

She started her teaching career in 1999 as a History of Art and History teacher at Reading Blue Coat School, where she stayed for a number of years. She then joined King’s Canterbury as a Housemistress, History and History of Art teacher. Her next post was to be Deputy Head at Hereford Cathedral School and from there she became Head of Godolphin in 2010.

Samantha is married with a daughter and a son. Her husband is an Army Chaplain.
Samantha joined Benenden as the Headmistress in January 2014, she chairs the GSA Inclusion Committee and is GSA President for 2021-22.

Steve Miller
Steve Miller
Deputy Head

Steve began his career as a Maths teacher at the Royal Ballet School, which evolved into also teaching Physics and Computing. From there he went on to become Head of Mathematics at Runnymede College in Madrid, an independent co-ed school, where he taught A Level as well as the International Baccalaureate. Moving back to the UK in 2002, Steve joined the Licensed Victuallers’ School in Ascot, where he progressed from Teacher of Maths to Head of Department. Alongside this role he also established and ran a number of successful businesses in the IT and security fields.

He joined Benenden in 2012 as Assistant Director of Studies with a brief that included line management of several subject areas, monitoring and analysis, the use of technology and online safety. He was then made Assistant Head in 2017.

Matt Commander
Matt Commander
Director of International and Strategic Projects

After completing his degree in Civil Engineering, Matt joined the Army and served for 11 years as an officer in the Royal Engineers and Queen’s Gurkha Engineers. He completed a number of overseas postings in Kuwait, Iraq, Kosovo and Germany as well as working as the Project Engineer for the Gurkha Welfare Trust School’s Project in Nepal.

His last appointment in the Army was as a Vice Principal responsible for leadership and personal development at the Defence Sixth Form College Welbeck which led to a career change to teaching. On leaving the Army he took up a Physics teaching appointment at Cranleigh School before moving to Christ’s Hospital where he taught GCSE, A Level and IB Physics alongside being a Houseparent for six years.

Matt Joined Benenden in 2015 as Assistant Head (Co-curricular), moving to Deputy Head (Staff and Co-curricular) in April 2017.  From September 2018, Matt took on the role of Director of International and Strategic Projects, overseeing all aspects of the School’s international school partnerships as well as working on other school strategic educational projects.

He also works alongside the Director of Partnerships on the strategy for the School’s Partnership Programme. In 2018 Matt completed a Master’s in Education Leadership.

Lesley Tyler
Lesley Tyler
Executive Director - Curriculum and Professional Excellence

An Oxford English graduate, Lesley first taught English and Drama at Coopers School in Kent, and became Head of Performing Arts. She then moved to Tonbridge Grammar as Head of Drama and as an Advanced Skills Teacher in Gifted and Talented Education, delivering training on this topic for the county and for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, where she was a lead practitioner in the education of able students. She also worked as a consultant on curriculum design and project-based learning for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the National College of School Leadership, and designed and ran summer schools for gifted students. She ran a county-wide project for able students as part of the Independent and State School Partnership which involved 35 schools.

In 2009, she moved to Benenden as Director of Studies, latterly rebranded Academic Deputy Head, and she undertook this role for ten years. From September 2019, she became Executive Director - Curriculum and Professional Excellence, with responsibility for curriculum design and innovation and academic staff training, and continues to be fully involved in the academic life of the school, including as a teacher.  

She continues her interest in curriculum design to promote challenge and connective thinking, working nationally on these topics. Lesley is a trained inspector for ISI and an expert advisor for Ofqual.

Helen Semple
Helen Semple
Deputy Head - Academic

Helen is an experienced senior leader, having worked as a Deputy Head in a number of independent schools across the UK. Her interests in the academic life of schools spans work in curriculum development, preparing young people for the future world of work and ensuring all enjoy a rigorous lifelong learning culture. Previously she has also worked as a global educational consultant.

Her other passion is inclusion, having set up the Schools’ Inclusion Alliance (SIA) and led training and guidance across the multi-faceted strands of diversity.

Helen joined Benenden in September 2021.

Anne Wakefield
Anne Wakefield
Deputy Head – Boarding and Pastoral Care

Anne joined us in 2019 from Queenswood School in Hertfordshire and went to boarding school herself from the age of 11. 

She oversees all aspects of our boarding and pastoral care, which is consistently considered among the finest of any school in the UK. Generations of pupils have benefited from her vast experience and uncompromising passion for doing what is in the girls' best interests. 

Farah Dawood: Assistant Head - Teaching, Learning, and Academic Extension
Farah Dawood
Assistant Head - Teaching, Learning, and Academic Extension

Farah joined Benenden in 2018 after five years as Head of Department at Ashford School. Having recently completed her MA in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in Education, Farah is focused on developing her knowledge of Islamic philosophy independently before the desire for a PhD takes root.

She leads the Philosophy and Religion Department at Benenden and through her role on SMT is responsible for ensuring excellence in the teaching and learning for our students.

Neal George
Neal George
Assistant Head - Head of Co-curricular

Neal has been working as a senior leader, high-performance coach and physical educator for over 20 years, working with high-performing teams and elite athletes. He began his formal study at the University of Surrey and spent 29 years serving in the British Army, as an officer within the Royal Army Physical Training Corps. He also gained a Masters in Science (MSc) in Leadership from Cranfield University and holds a high-performance director's role at an elite gymnastics club in Surrey.

Kyle Johnson
Kyle Johnson
Director of Development

Prior to joining Benenden in 2017, Kyle was Head of Philanthropy for The Prince’s Trust where he designed and oversaw The Trust’s successful 40th anniversary philanthropic fundraising campaign, securing funding to modernise and rejuvenate the youth charity’s building infrastructure and run an array of educational programmes.

Julie Lerbech
Julie Lerbech
Director of Finance and Operations

Having grown up locally Julie completed Bachelor and Masters degrees in Natural Sciences (Geology) at the University of Cambridge. On graduating, Julie joined Ernst and Young where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant specialising in insurance. Prior to joining Benenden Julie was the Bursar and Clerk to the Governors at Colfe’s School in London for 10 years. Julie is also a Director of the newly formed Independent Schools’ Mutual. 

Julie joined Benenden in 2020 as Director of Finance and Operations which includes responsibility for the support functions within the school. 

Ian Read- Director of Marketing and Communications
Ian Read
Director of Marketing and Communications

After obtaining a degree in Multi-Media Journalism at Bournemouth University, Ian spent ten years working in journalism, including four years as Editor of the Kent and Sussex Courier, and led his papers to several industry awards during that time. He then moved onto a role as a Communications Adviser at a London council before joining Benenden in 2015. In 2018 he achieved a Diploma in Professional Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

As well as leading the Marketing function at Benenden, Ian is a Lower Fifth form tutor and frequently runs sessions for pupils about journalism, branding and marketing.