The subject knowledge of teaching staff recruited by the senior management team is excellent and teachers share the vision that the team has created. All show a strong commitment to the success of the college. The creation of a friendly community which enables students to realise their potential is the focus of all staff.
isi inspection 2012
As a well established sixth form college that has evolved into an independent secondary school our younger students benefit from a team of subject specialists. Most of our staff are full time and permanent. Many have Masters level qualifications and PhDs or are continuing to work towards them, helping to sustain a lively academic and creative environment.
The College has grown steadily since it was first established in 1984 and this growth has largely been thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of the teachers, many of whom have been here since the early days. The ranks, however, are constantly refreshed by the addition of some very highly qualified and innovative new teachers. Please scroll down this page for a small selection of the teaching talent!
Head of Science and sixth form tutor, Katharine Lang is former writer and Assistant Scientific Editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry, she joined RIC to teach Biology from Rochester Maths School. Before teaching Katharine worked as a journalist both locally in Rochester and as a sub editor at Country Life. Working alongside her is Janet Cargill, highly experienced Biology teacher and examiner. Janet has recently finished her MSc in Science Communication at Imperial.
Cambridge graduate Julian Cass first taught A level at RIC in the 1980s and rejoined the team in 2012. Julian and the rest of the Science department is particularly experienced in teaching short retake courses and intensive one year A levels. Many former students are now practising doctors, dentists, vets and pharmacists.
Before teaching Dr Sophie Hilton worked as a research scientist on a project to design and synthesise possible inhibitors of the enzyme 5?-reductase which is involved in the steroid pathway responsible for the enlargement of prostates in men and which can be a precursor to prostate cancer. This work got published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Sophie says: “Working at RIC is like a breath of fresh air, the small classes and the fact that the students are very well behaved and want to succeed in the subject means that I feel that I can convey my enthusiasm for Chemistry and turn my attention to every student.”
Imperial College graduate Paul Dutton has been Head of Physics at RIC since 2003. The department is hoping to repeat the successful trip to Tenerife where the A level Astrophysics module was taught to a group of sixth formers from Rochester, using the resources of the famous observatory there. Paul says: “The College attracts very high quality Science students from both the UK and Overseas who complete A levels in a year from scratch and proceed to university. We look forward to welcoming next year’s Thai scholars, two of whom are already medallists in the International Physics Olympiad.”
Danny Cheung came to RIC from Hong Kong in 2004 to study English and work in our kitchens. His traditional roast dinners and baking skills were quickly appreciated by students and staff alike. The College awarded him a full scholarship to study A levels and supported him through university where he was awarded a First Class degree in Engineering from City. Danny now works alongside his own Maths and Science tutors, teaching A level students from all over the world.
New to the College Maths teaching team in 2015 is Eytan Melamud who is also a Lower School Form Tutor. Eytan studied mathematics at Imperial College before qualifying as an Architect. He has taught both Architecture and Mathematics. He is a keen choral singer and cook.
english, drama and theatre studies
RIC won two Good Schools Guide awards in for its 2011 English Literature results, celebrating the highest point scores at AS and A level of any independent school in the UK .
Leading English teaching in Years 7-11 is KCL graduate and long serving teacher Gemma Sanchez. Former RIC A level student David Thornthwaite, Head of English, studied as an undergraduate at the University of Warwick and later studied for his MA at the University of Kent. He entered the teaching profession after a career in banking. His particular interests are Victorian and Edwardian literature, Science Fiction, Literary Biography and Narrative Theory. His favourite texts have a suspicious habit of finding their way onto the curriculum, but he insists that he likes them because they are so accessible.
Leading Drama and Theatre Studies in our dedicated underground theatre space at the College is Deborah Postgate. Deborah studied at UKC and Aberdeen before joining RIC. As well as overseeing Drama at GCSE and A level Deborah also runs LAMDA classes for students interested in gaining speech and drama grades during their time with us and, along with the English department, organises an extensive programme of theatre trips to productions both locally and in nearby London. Highlights from last year included multiple Olivier Award winning ‘The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time’, ‘Twelfth Night’ at the Globe with Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry and Daniel Radcliffe starring in the AS English coursework text RIC chose for coursework- ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan.’
humanities and social sciences
Richard Howarth specialises in Economics, and Economics and Business Studies and is an examiner for A Level Economics. After graduating from Birmingham, Richard played professional cricket and, after working in the City for a leading shipping insurance broker, entered the teaching profession. He left Lansdowne College in 2014, where he was Head of Economics for over 20 years, to join RIC. He currently contributes to a leading economics blog, and has advised several schools on teacher training for Economics. As well as teaching, Richard advises students on university applications to read Economics.
Teaching Politics and History this year is Dr Anthony Gilliland. Anthony studied Government at the London School of Economics for his BSc. His PhD is on the subject of Federalism and the New States. Before joining RIC Anthony was a Senior Tutor at CATS College, London.
Dominic Corfield also teaches History and Politics. Dominic graduated in 2013 with a BA Hons Politics at the University of Sheffield before completing an MA in Security Studies at the same university in January 2015. His postgraduate dissertation concerned the rise of drone warfare and its future role in humanitarian interventions. Dominic is also a writer and contributor for the online international politics blog Grow the Idea, established by fellow students from his MA studies at university. Before working at RIC, Dominic worked in theatre as the Company Stage Manager for Sheffield-based FYSA Theatre, working on the national tour of their verbatim theatre piece The 56, a play about the Valley Parade fire of 1985, and E15, a piece about the social housing crisis in East London. The 56 received coverage from national media and was given numerous awards at the 2015 Sunday Times National Student Drama Festival.
Dr Kamila Pawlikowska teaches Sociology and Psychology. She studied Sociology at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland) and Comparative Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury (UK), where she later taught literature, sociology and cultural studies. Her PhD in Comparative Literature was published last year, entitled Anti-portraits: Poetics of the Face in English, Polish and Russian Literature. She has recently completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tokyo where she was a British Academy / Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellow and studied the perceptions of Japan in Europe. Her interests include images of the human body and face in literature and visual arts, cross-national literature, intercultural communication, Japanese culture and language, and global education.
York graduate Richard Blood joined RIC in 2001 to teach Geography. Richard has a keen interest in World Development Studies and has worked on a voluntary basis for the British Trust of Conservation Volunteers and Oxfam. Richard is planning an exciting programme of field trips for next year’s Geography students. Richard is an experienced A level examiner and has taught the new World Development A level at the College very successfully. He is also responsible for coordinating RIC’s environmental projects and Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which we offer to all students from Year 9 upwards. Aspects of the DofE scheme run throughout the curriculum involving everything from first aid to film making as well as popular expeditions.
Richard is joined teaching World Development this year by Tim Strahlendorf. After graduation from UCL in 2010 with a degree in Geography – including an Erasmus exchange programme with the Sorbonne-IV in Paris – Tim pursued his academic quest to complete a Master’s degree in Sociology and Social Theory at the LSE in 2012, awarded with Distinction and Hobhouse Memorial Prize for the best academic performance of his cohort. Having previously attended a “Study China” programme in Shanghai during his undergraduate years, Tim heard many positive things about teaching and travelling in China, which led him to the decision to spend two years in the Middle Kingdom post-Master’s, teaching EAL and most recently IB Geography, amongst sampling the delights of Chinese cuisine and absorbing some of the country’s rich history, culture and language. Tim’s academic interests bridge the social sciences and the humanities and range eclectically from psychosocial and posthumanist approaches to studying contemporary human-technology interaction, to the geopolitics of global development and climate change discourses, as well as urban studies and comparative urbanism. Tim was born near Hamburg, Germany, and came to the UK when he was 12. He believes profoundly in a trans-European project of integration and mutual understanding.
Psychology and Sociology teacher Pooja Gangaramanic joined RIC in September 2012. She is an experienced examiner for both subjects and has been a Head of Department at a range of independent schools and sixth form colleges in London. Pooja has a BSc in Psychology from Surrey University and an MA in Sociology from City University. Before joining RIC Pooja worked for Gabbitas, the UK’s premier independent education consultancy.
Teaching Classical Civilisation at A level is Alistair Donaldson. Alistair says: “I am currently writing my Classical and Archaeology Studies PhD thesis on the influences of Hellenistic kingship on the Roman Republic and Early Principate. I have several years experience teaching and tutoring GCSE and A Level students, in addition to lecturing at the University of Kent. When teaching my students I try to encourage their interest in the debt we owe to ancient cultures (“What have the Romans ever done for us!?”), by arranging trips to museums, heritage sites and performances of ancient plays.”
music and music technology
Music teaching at the College, both traditional and popular is developing fast under Head of Music Alex James. Alex is a musician, composer and musicologist who has performed with a wide range of popular, improvising and experimental artists, including The Cinematic Orchestra and Eddie Prevost. Alex passed both his BA and MA with distinction and is currently studying for a PhD at Nottingham University, where he is the Henry Thomas Mitchell scholar. Alex teaches on both the Music and Music Technology courses at Rochester.
This year is going to be really exciting with our rapidly expanding department and new studio spaces coming on stream. RIC has a tradition of involving local artists in workshops and residencies. All those who teach are active, practicing artists, designers and photographers whose concern for the subject is not restricted to teaching and who therefore bring a fresh and inspiring range of experience. We are also the only local school to offer the academic A level in Art History. The department has taught many students over the years who have gone on to become successful artists including Ray Smith who provided the illustrations for this website and Leighton Noyes who has illustrated over 80 children’s books!
Fashion and Textiles at the College is taught by Jenni Burrows and offered at both A level and GCSE. See here for a clip of Jenni talking about her MA project. Jenni joined RIC from Highgate School. Jenni’s work is showcased on her own website, here.
The artist, poet and musician Billy Childish is a Visiting Lecturer. Billy was closely associated with the Young British Artists, founded the Stuckist movement and has been described by fellow artist Peter Doig as “one of the most outstanding, and often misunderstood, figures on the British art scene” Billy is the only RIC member of staff as far as we are aware to have inspired the name of a Kylie Minogue album and to have counted Kurt Cobain and Jack White amongst his celebrity fanbase. Click here to see Billy interviewing himself on The Tate website.
Also based in the Art department is Dominik Klimowski who has worked as a photographer for nearly twenty years, with clients including book publishers, advertising agencies, record companies, The Royal Opera House and the BBC.
Dominik studied at Chelsea College of Art before graduating with a BA in Fine Art from Kingston University. After working as a photographer following bands as they toured around the country, he moved to a more technical side, working in photographic labs during the gradual shift from film to digital photography. He has continued to develop his own work, having exhibitions in galleries in central London and publishing an illustrated book of short stories ‘Welcome to the Real World’. His first exhibition in London was described as ‘the kind of work David Lynch would have hanging upside down on his walls at home.’
Before coming to RIC, Dominik worked as a photographer and picture editor at the BBC. He finds the atmosphere here creative and refreshing, and is proud to work in a college which is able to provide both traditional darkroom facilities and more modern technology. Dominik says: “The students are a pleasure to work with, and teaching and sharing ideas with them makes every day unpredictable and exciting.”
New to the Art department in 2015 is former A level and GCSE student Joe Becci who will now be teaching alongside his own old art and design tutors. Joe says: “I have always had a passion for the arts from a young age scribbling dinosaurs on scrap paper at school. I continued to explore and broaden my knowledge of the subjects as I grew up, acquiring A levels in photography, graphic design and fine art at RIC. I went on to study Illustration at the University Of The Creative Arts Maidstone achieving a BA Hons degree. Now alongside helping to teach the arts at the college I am also a practicing Freelance illustrator, and have worked in a variety of fields from comic books and album covers, to book illustrations and concept art.” Examples of Joe’s work are on his own website, here.
Also new to the team in 2015 is Peter Quirke. Peter specialises in Graphic Design, in particular Motion and Interactivity and Media. Peter graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from the University of Salford. In 2013 he won The Roses Gold Award for an integrated social media campaign “Whim Up North” which centred on online traffic and demographic appeal. Following this success Peter worked with design agencies Modern English Digital and Bellyfeel giving him the experience at new and emerging technologies within an industry setting. In 2014 Peter created a transmedia storytelling service “Black Echo” incorporating classic suspense and thriller techniques to immerse audiences by simply using their smartphones to interact with the story. Before RIC, Peter worked with the Manchester based music label MUK Records, designing album and promotional material for several artists including Bird to Beast and Midnight.
film and media
Film and Media Studies are now very well established at the College with a track record of outstanding results. Good Schools Award for Film Studies A level results were secured in 2007, 2008 and 2012. In September 2008 we were one of the first UK schools to offer GCSE Film Studies to its students. Combining academic and practical work including screen writing and film journalism these A levels and GCSEs are an exciting alternative to more traditional subjects.
Film, Media and English teacher Nikki Komorowski has taught at RIC since 2008 . Prior to joining the college she worked for 10 years at Northfleet Technology College where she was Head of Year 11 and Head of Department. She is an examiner for WJEC A level Film Studies. Outside of College, Nikki has been involved in making promotional films for local schools and authoring educational resources and courses including an education pack for Shorne Woods and ‘Streetwise’- an educational resource for the ‘Clean Kent Campaign.’ Nikki says of her work as a Film Studies examiner: “It helps me to teach the students how to think like an examiner in order to review their own essay writing skills and explain what the enigmatic mark scheme actually means!”