RIC is a lively school with a talented, caring team of teachers and support staff
The strength of any school is the quality of its staff. At RIC there is very little turn over, ensuring consistency for children. Our teaching style is positive, enthusiastic and encouraging.
Scroll down for a small selection of the RIC Lower School teaching talent and to learn more about the Lower School form tutor team.
I am feeling fantastic! I got everything I asked for – and more! I’m still in shock over a few of my grades – I got an A in Maths, I’m so happy! I love all of my teachers; they bring you forward; they are firm but ever so supportive and are with you every step of the way. They are always kind in their guidance; their passion in their subject really does shine through and it’s contagious. I originally wanted to be a Marine Biologist but more recently I’ve thought about becoming a teacher – I’ve been inspired!
Co-Head of Lower School is Leighton Bright. Leighton graduated from Reading University in 2000 with a degree in English Literature and Language before working in the financial services sector for 10 years. He went on to train as an English teacher in 2010 and has worked in two large schools in the Medway area as a specialist teacher of students with additional educational needs. Leighton is in the process of completing his Masters in Education and is also RIC’s special Educational Needs Coordinator. Leighton says of the Lower School: “We take a holistic approach to the delivery of a diverse curriculum underpinned by a breadth of creative subjects. This promotes emotional intelligence and independent decision making and enables students to become disciplined and confident. Timetabled lessons are complemented by a range of extra curricular activities, specialist theme weeks, trips and events. While academic progress is essential and carefully monitored we work with our students on an individual level providing them with a comfortable, caring and fun environment in which they can thrive.”
Leighton is joined in the Lower School by Co-Head Helen Rose. Helen graduated from Loughborough University School of Art and Design with a BA Hons in Fine Art Sculpture. She went on to successfully complete a Masters Degree in the same field at the University of Leeds. Having qualified as a Design and Technology teacher in 2004 Helen embarked on her teaching career on the South East Coast. She developed a career that centred on the development of Teaching and Learning practices and has delivered professional development both nationally internationally. She feels fortunate to have a diverse experience in leadership and from across different types of education establishments ranging from large mainstream academies, specialist schools and within the independent sector. Helen says that ‘the staff here at Rochester are in a privileged position to be able to not teach the class, but the individual. It is this bespoke and personalised learning that forms the foundation of our successes in the Lower School. We know are students well and are able to plan learning experiences that engage, empower and inspire."
Assistant Head of Lower School Chris Barradell joined Rochester Independent College in 2014 having spent 12 years teaching in mainstream state schools across Kent. Chris graduated from the Open University with a BSc Honours degree in Social Science, Environment and Geography whilst teaching Geography at an all-boys secondary school in Medway. With a wealth of teaching experience behind him, including time as a subject leader and interim head of department, Chris made the transition to the independent education sector at the end of 2014 and immediately felt at home at RIC. Speaking of his early days at the college Chris recalls “I was immediately struck by the holistic, student-centred ethos of Rochester Independent College and the positive impacts this has on students learning. RIC students enjoy their learning and strive to achieve to the very best of their ability thanks, in large part, to the college’s refreshingly informal and supportive approach to education. While student achievement and progress is important, there is an equal emphasis placed upon their personal development as individuals and staff strive to empower all students to achieve to their full potential and aspire to be the very best that they can be”
Lower School English is led by KCL graduate Gemma Sanchez who has taught at RIC since 2006. Gemma says: “Texts studied include a Shakespeare play in each year, Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol', HG Wells' 'The Island of Doctor Moreau' George Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion', George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' and RC Sherriff's 'Journey's End' as well as recent fiction such as David Almond's 'Skellig', Benjamin Zephaniah's 'Refugee Boy' and Morris Gleitzman's 'Two Weeks with the Queen'. We intend that students will finish their KS3 study keen, informed and well prepared to embark upon the demands of the GCSE courses.” Last year’s Year 11 students had the opportunity to see Emma Rice’s controversial reimagining of their set text ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at Shakespeare’s Globe the week before their GCSE examination.
Leading Science teaching in the Lower School and inspiring the next generation of doctors, researchers and engineers are and Alex Coppelman and Ben Garton. Alex studied Zoology in Wales, joining RIC after teaching in China and the USA. For his role at Camp Winnebago, USA Alex devised and delivered a science programme including ecology, botany, healthy eating, geology and zoology for children aged 7-15. He was also responsible for a cabin of boys and participated in a full entertainment programme. Alex says: “My aim is to combine the best features of Camp Winnebago where I worked in the States: enthusiasm, curiosity and a sense of community with those of my Chinese classes: high expectations, meeting targets, achievement together and mutual respect.”
Ben went to school locally at Maidstone Grammar School before studying Biochemistry at Sheffield and is a graduate of the prestigious fast track Teach First Leadership programme. As well as teaching in a range of local state schools Ben has been involved with various international projects including a community aid trip to house build in South Africa and teaching English at a Hungarian summer camp.
Ben and Alex have been involved in British Science Week events in the RIC Lower School that have seen a CSI style investigation on Star Hill and a space race. They took a group of students to The Young Persons Medical Conference organized by our colleagues at Dukes Education last year and in 2018 are planning to take Lower School students to Science Live, a chance to see and hear five of Britain’s top scientists, including Prof Robert Winston and Prof Steve Jones working at the cutting edge of their specialisms.
The arts are central to the Lower School and students from Year 7 up have the opportunity to explore fashion and textiles, digital multimedia arts and photography as well as ceramics, fine art and design. Joining Lower School art teacher Carmel Park is former RIC student Joe Becci. Joe was in fact one of the College’s first Lower School students, taking GCSEs and A levels before studying at the University of the Arts. Joe is an illustrator and concept artist with an undying love for drawing fantastical characters, weird creatures and the worlds they inhabit! His website can be seen here.