Educated at Steyning Grammar School, West Sussex, Sarah Kerr-Dineen went on to gain an MA in English at Trinity College, Cambridge and to pursue graduate study at Christ Church, Oxford.
Her teaching career spans over thirty years. Early in her career she taught for the Open University in the South West and Oxford, and then spent thirteen years in the English department at St Edward’s Oxford, where she was also a boarding housemistress and ultimately Director of Studies before moving to be Warden of Forest School, London. She has been Head of Oundle School since 2015, and is currently a Governor at four prep schools. She chairs HMC’s Pastoral and Safeguarding Committee and sits on the advisory board for the Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation, the UK’s largest bursary charity which helps disadvantaged and vulnerable children from across the UK to access fully funded bursaries at leading schools.
"Oundle School has long been associated with the very best of modern independent education, especially boarding education. The individual child is central to our vision."Mrs Sarah Kerr-Dineen, Head of Oundle School
I have known of Oundle for many years and have always admired and enjoyed the company of Old Oundelians and colleagues who have at some stage in their career taught at Oundle. As a head, I was drawn to its ethos and values: recognising the potential of each child, expecting the best of everyone and providing opportunities for all to flourish.
I would be sad if there was to be a single answer to that question. I think Oundelians share certain characteristics: they are good-hearted, open-minded and serious about making the most of themselves and their opportunities. Beyond that, however, I am struck by the sheer range within the pupil body and I hope that will always be the case. I think it’s the sign of a good school when pupils can surprise you – and each other – in positive ways.
I believe its distinctive qualities are the result of a number of elements coming together, many of which the school of today cannot take credit for, but benefits from nonetheless. The fact that we are a school community within a town community is more important than I would have thought possible. Pupils are part of the weft of a thriving rural market town; they are not growing up in an isolated bubble. They walk from lesson to boarding house to chapel to playing fields as part of something bigger than themselves and there is great respect between school and town.
Oundle is also at the heart of a really beautiful part of the world and the town itself is stunning. We are connected to the whole of the UK and as a result, we genuinely are a national boarding school. When you add to that the importance of our day-pupil community and their families, and the Oundle families across the world, the particular depth and richness of our pupils’ experience becomes clear.
Beyond location, Oundle has always been known for educational innovation. STEM subjects are central to its vision and more recently the school has embedded a love of learning beyond the tyranny of exams (as a result of which, performance in exams has strengthened). As one pupil said to me early on…
“What is great about Oundle is that it is considered admirable among the pupils to want to try hard and do well.”
It represents the greatest opportunity I could wish for: working with others to guide young people into adulthood and enable them to contribute purposefully to the world in which they live. Being a head also represents a significant responsibility: I never forget that in the end we as a school are responsible for the welfare and happiness of other people’s children. It is a wonderful job.
I hesitate to give words of wisdom, but these are some of the things I have learned from others over the years. Assume people are doing the best they can until they prove otherwise. Try to see yourself through others’ eyes and remember how you might have seen things at the various stages of your earlier career. Smile whenever possible. Manage your own energies: you are likely to have to deal with trickier situations towards the end of term and keeping perspective will be important. Value your family and friends.
The challenges our pupils will face in the world beyond School will require of them adaptability and emotional intelligence, as well as the best academic qualifications of which they are capable. We take seriously our responsibility to our pupils so that they can emerge as decent, open-minded adults: ambitious about what they can go on to achieve and contribute, but never arrogant.Our Philosophy
We are fortunate in our location at the heart of a beautiful market town, not least because for over 450 years the School and town have been part of the same community. Our pupils take their place within this community, not isolated from it.Explore Our Interactive Map
Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school located
in East Road, Oundle for children aged 4 to 11.