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Downe the Lens - meet the Holcombe Housemistress

In the latest in our Downe the Lens series focusing on our amazing team of Housestaff, we meet the Holcombe Housemistress, Mrs Barbara Brader

We are delighted to welcome Mrs Barbara Brader back to Downe House as Housemistress of Holcombe House. Barbara taught History and Politics at Downe House as a full-time member of the academic staff for six years before succumbing to the lure of her home in Scotland and returning there in 2014 to become Head of History at Albyn School.

Barbara studied at St Andrew’s University and after completing an MA in English and Scottish History went onto Edinburgh University to do her PGCE. Whilst teaching at Downe, she supported NQT teachers as a mentor and has a particular interest in facilitating the professional development of teachers. Barbara is also a Senior Examiner for A-Level Cambridge International History, and has examined for several different boards over the years.

Finding that she missed the pastoral care aspect of teaching in the full boarding setting, Barbara was attracted back to Downe by the possibility of taking on the Housemistress role. Barbara has enjoyed returning with more experience gained in another school and a fresh pair of eyes to enrich her new role. Barbara has also joined the academic staff as a history teacher once more and is currently teaching the Lower Fourth and mentoring a Lower Sixth EPQ student.

Alongside being Housemistress and teacher, Barbara is currently studying for a Masters in Educational Research at Oxford University, with a focus on Teaching and Learning. Her current research is looking at strategies to motivate the most able students, and now that she is back at Downe House, she intends to look at how the new Murray Centre is going to impact on teaching and learning which will be of great interest to all.

Barbara said, “It is early days, but I can already see that there is a strong sense of family in Holcombe House which is totally in line with my own traditional values of working hard, showing respect, being open-minded and always being willing to have a go. All young people face challenges and I think it is very important that the girls know we are there to support them every step of the way. My aim for Holcombe is to nurture the House as the girls’ home-from-home where they know there is always a listening ear. Living alongside the girls and getting to know them well in both the academic and pastoral setting means that we are exceptionally well-placed to help them to find their way and to connect with their tutors and their families to give the support and guidance that all teenagers need. We organize a raft of activities from our Current Affairs Club to baking and trips throughout the term,and of course, the girls particularly love getting involved in Inter-House competitions. As a musician myself, having played piano and accordion from a young age, I take particular enjoyment in the musical activities of Holcombe.”

I am particularly excited to have inherited the planning of the trip to Malawi to visit our overseas House charity, Open Arms in July. It is a case in point that none of us have ever travelled to Africa before but as a group, we are all determined to rise to the challenge and make it a successful adventure with a host of fantastic memories which the girls will always remember.”

The Holcombe motto is ‘Persta Atque Obdura’ or ‘Be Steadfast and Endure’ which encapsulates the ethos of both Downe House and Holcombe.


Find out more about life in the Holcombe Boarding House here


Posted: 4th Apr 2019


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