Interview with new Halley House School Headteacher

We caught up with Toby Mills-Bishop, new headteacher at Halley House School, and got to know a little more about him, his vision for the school and his connection to Hackney, London.

Q: Hi Toby, please tell us about you.

A: Hello! My name is Toby and I am very pleased to introduce myself as the new Headteacher at Halley House School. I am very excited about leading the school and can’t wait to start.

I have been a Headteacher since 2018 and have spent the last five years leading a school called Waterside Academy in Hertfordshire. This year I have also been supporting a second local school that had fallen into difficulty as their Executive Headteacher. Before then, I was a the Deputy Headteacher for six years, and prior to that I was a class teacher. I have been in education for a long time!

Putting personal development opportunities at the heart of all we do in school is something I am very passionate about. I want all children to enjoy coming to school, and have rich experiences that add excitement and genuine value to their lives. Great assemblies, school trips, sporting events, fun workshops and special visitors are all key elements of my vision for the future at Halley House.

I like children to ‘be busy’ and actively participating in their own education. This ‘hands-on’ and ‘always-learning’ philosophy to daily lessons has helped me to raise standards and pupil outcomes at my two current schools considerably.

My approach around curriculum planning focusses on ensuring children learn the right skills and gain the right elements of knowledge they need to be successful in life. I believe curriculum plans need to be cohesive (make sense and link learning together) and progressive (get more challenging overtime), and this will be my approach at Halley. It is my firm belief that schools should be fun and exciting places to be, with lots of interactive learning going on.

Q: Why did Halley House appeal to you as a school?

A: In a word (well… two words!) because of the ‘family feel’. I love schools and I love education because all that we do in schools is centred around communities and bringing people together to achieve a common goal. A close-knit community is a strong one, and schools are very well placed to support this. As a Headteacher, I will get to know all pupils and the real issues they face, so that I can help them to overcome barriers to success, and make their time at school a happy and enjoyable one. This is very much in line with the school’s and BPET values to Learn, Enjoy and Succeed.

Toby Mills-Bishop meeting Halley House School parents

Q: What is your vision for the school, and what you think you’ll tackle first when you start?

A: My vision for the school is one of inclusiveness and engagement. I want the school to be able to meet the needs of all children and support them no matter what. As I said above, I also want children to be busy at all times and really get the most out of their education.

I will work with subject leaders to make sure that curriculum planning responds fully to pupils’ needs and is both cohesive and progressive in nature, as well as to ensure that the implementation of those plans is strong across the school, supporting all children to achieve great outcomes.

I am already in full contact with the current school leaders as well as BPET leaders, and I will be in touch with all of them very regularly over the next few months and across the autumn term. When I properly start in January, there will be a period of learning and of assessment for me. I will want to know what is good and effective, which we will keep and grow and celebrate, but I also want to know if there are any areas for development I can help with. I don’t like to change anything too quickly, and certainly without proper consultation and thought. Halley House is a great school, and I am keen to organically build upon the strong provision already in place.

My leadership style is one of diplomacy and democracy and I love seeing others grow and flourish. Truly great leaders build capacity in others and then enjoy seeing the successes they have – this is what I plan to do!

Q: What’s your connection to Hackney and its community?

A: My connection to Hackney goes back to 2013, when I came to the area to take part in a multi-sport race put on by a local triathlon club. I am already signed-up to run the Hackney Half next year, which sees its route run right past the school. My brother used to live on Well Street before emigrating abroad, but he did manage to squeeze in a quick wedding at Hackney Town Hall before he left.

My other half is a maker who lives and works in the area, and our lives are deeply rooted in the local creative community. I love this area for its vibrancy, diversity, proximity to amazing sporting opportunities and its strong character. We are also very fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented artists, crafts people and makers here, and I hope to be able to bring some very special guest speakers, from different industries and different crafts, into the school over the coming years.

Q: What are you most excited about for this new post?

Getting to know pupils and families is truly exciting! I like to know everyone in the community, and will be asking lots of questions to pupils and their parents and carers to get to know what really makes people get up in the morning and strive for greatness. This school is clearly a special place as so much fantastic work has gone on already; I’m fully aware of this and I only want to add to it to create something very special indeed.

Thank you for letting me come on this adventure with you all. I am really looking forward to supporting Halley during the transition of leadership; I will be in full contact with the school before starting full time in January 2024, but I’ll be present in the school straight away, and before we know it we’ll be working together. I’m looking forward to the Summer BBQ where I hope Halley House parents will come and say hi!