Senior   Management Team

The Senior Management Team, under the direction of the Headmistress, are responsible for running the School and the Governing Council is Benenden’s board of directors, whose role is to scrutinise, challenge and support SMT’s plans and to oversee their implementation.

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 sits on the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) Inclusion Committee, served as the GSA President for 2021-22 and as its Vice-President for 2022-23.

Steve Miller

FIRST DEPUTY

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 First Deputy in 2017.

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.

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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

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.

Simon Cullen

ASSISTANT HEAD – HEAD OF SIXTH FORM

Simon joined Benenden in 2015 as Head of History after ten years as a Boarding House Master at Cranbrook School.

He has been Head of Sixth Form since 2019 guiding students through their A Levels and pastorally to help them gain places at top universities and grades they can be proud of.

Simon is also a teacher of History and Politics.

Lucy Lynch

ASSISTANT HEAD – CO-CURRICULAR

Lucy joined Benenden in 2008 as Head of Lacrosse and PE teacher, after studying Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University followed by Exercise Physiology at James Madison University in Virginia, USA.

After joining Benenden Lucy swiftly became involved in the boarding side of the School, initially as a Deputy Housemistress in Founders and then as Housemistress of Echyngham.

Alongside her role in the boarding house Lucy continued to play Lacrosse internationally, becoming England’s most capped player before hanging up her boots in 2019.

Sarah Wood

ASSISTANT HEAD – BOARDING

Sarah was educated at Wycombe Abbey before studying Physiology at Newcastle University. She then spent 21 years at Dulwich College in London as a Biology teacher, progressing to Deputy Head of the Middle School for ten years before becoming Director of Co-curricular.
In 2019, Sarah arrived at Benenden to become the Housemistress of Hemsted. With the arrival of Covid, Hemsted became the original Fourths House, which set up the format for the now established Fourths House, Medway.
She continues to love teaching Biology, enjoys travelling all over the world, and is best known at Benenden for her ever-present dog, Marmite.

Kyle Johnson

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Prior to joining Benenden in 2017, Kyle was Head of Philanthropy for The Prince’s Trust. There 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

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.

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Ian Read

DIRECTOR OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS

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 overseeing the Marketing, Admissions and Commercial Arts functions at Benenden, Ian frequently runs sessions for pupils about journalism, branding and marketing.

Alastair Couldrey

ACTING DIRECTOR OF TEACHING AND LEARNING

Alastair joined Benenden in 2018 as Head of Politics, having previously held the same role at Repton School in Derbyshire. As well as teaching Politics and History, Alastair runs the Debating Society and has had previous roles as Scholarship Mentor and as acting Hm of Elms.

His particular roles as Director of Teaching and Learning include overseeing the Year 7 and 8 Diploma and the Electives Programme as well as the Scholarship group and academic extension.