The first head teacher of the UK’s newest public school has taught members of the Churchill family and Middle Eastern royalty at the world-famous Harrow School.
But Andy Howard, a 46-year-old West Country man, has also mixed it at a tough inner city school in London and even launched one of the first of the Government’s new ‘free’ schools as well.
He has been named as Headmaster of the new Myddelton (correct) College in Denbigh which will open its doors in 12 months time in the historic buildings of the former Howells School.
The new school is putting everything in place ahead of the opening. It is planned to have classes for Years Seven Eight, Nine, 10 and 12 – Years 11 and 13 are the second years of the GCSE and A-level cycles and will be introduced in 2017.
The co-educational school will have day students and boarders with its pupils drawn locally and from across the world, particularly from Africa, Europe, the Middle and Far East.
Mr Howard said: “Our plan is to be a fully-fledged 21st century boarding school with children from around the world here in the heart of Denbighshire but we are also committed to having Denbighshire children here.
“The power of these buildings and the history in the stonework means we will give all our students, wherever they come from in the world, a sense of roots and somewhere else they can call home.
“It’s a very exciting time and there is a lot to do in the next six months in terms of putting things in place like our Tier Four licence and getting the necessary proofs to ESTYN – the Welsh Government’s education inspectorate – and the Home Office to show that we can function as an operational school.
“We have already had the buildings passed as fit for purpose and that’s down to Estates manager Paul Gibson who has been here for 12 years and who has seen that they have been properly maintained.
“In fact the facilities here are superb and so is the setting, in one of the loveliest parts of this country.”
Mr Howard, from Marlborough, in Wiltshire, went into teaching after gaining a BSc in Physics at Imperial College, London, and his first job was at Finchley Catholic High School in North London.
He said: “It wasn’t a well off area and some of the kids had their white shirts supplied by the parish priest and there were knife fights in the playground.”
From there he went to a prep school in the independent sector catering for seven to 13-year-olds and a boarding school at Elstree, North London, before applying successfully for a job as Physics teacher at Harrow School.
Harrow has provided more British prime ministers than any school apart from Eton – there were seven of them including Winston Churchill and Robert Peel, the creator of the modern police force, along with the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.
More recent alumni include Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch, England rugby star Billy Vunipola, Test cricketer Gary Ballance, the Duke of Westminster and singer James Blunt.
Mr Howard spent four years at Harrow, teaching Physics, coaching rugby alongside former England and Lions star Roger Uttley and taking the Combined Cadet Force – he was temporarily commissioned into the Grenadier Guards.
Among his pupils were members of the Churchill family and also a Crown Prince of Jordan and he added: “You could always tell where in the school he was because there would be a black Land Rover with a team of Jordanian special forces men in it parked outside.”
From there he held a number of posts at different schools, including Malvern Girls’ College, one of the foremost girls’ schools in the country and Bolton School, where he was deputy head with responsibility for the curriculum at one of the highest achieving independent day schools in the country.
He was then recruited to open Sandymoor School, near Runcorn, one of the first of the Government’s ‘free’ schools which launched in 2014 before he was headhunted by Birmingham-based IQ Education Limited to take charge of Myddelton College.
He said: “Harrow changed me forever. It made me realise that you can’t just teach and teaching can’t be just a job because in education the job is never done.
“The reason for coming here was that schools need roots and this has roots in abundance with history and traditions and that is very important.
“Schools exist to serve their communities and are where the next generation is formed and as a result they have an absolute duty to recognise its place in the wider community.”
A spokesperson of IQ Education Ltd, which is also working with Adcote School for Girls near Shrewsbury, said: “We undertook a very thorough and wide-ranging search for a new head teacher for Myddelton College and we are delighted to have appointed Andy Howard.
“He has a terrific track record in education and his talent and passion make him the ideal person to launch the school and lead it into the future.”
“There is a great tradition here and we chose the name Myddelton College to reflect this but it will also be very much a modern school with a focus on preparing its pupils for the 21st century.”
The Myddelton family have a long and distinguished connection with Denbigh and Denbighshire and included Sir Thomas Myddelton who was a founder member of the East India Company and Lord Mayor of London in 1613 while his brother, Sir Hugh, was instrumental in the creation of the New River which supplied London with fresh water from 1613.