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The Charter School

East Dulwich

Letters to parents, carers, colleagues and governors at The Charter School East Dulwich

To parents and carers at The Charter School East Dulwich

Dear parents and carers,

I hope you have all had a wonderful and relaxing summer break.

I am writing to inform you about a change to the leadership team for the coming year. Christian Hicks has been with our Trust for nearly a decade and has contributed so much in that time. He has decided the time is right to move on to fresh challenges and will not be returning to the Charter Trust this term. 

The Trust Board and I are very grateful for Mr Hicks' great work for all of the young people in our schools over the past nine years. As Headteacher of The Charter School North Dulwich, he secured another Ofsted Outstanding judgement in all categories. As Executive Headteacher for both our secondary schools, he led The Charter School East Dulwich to a strong set of GCSE results this summer, and established highly effective heads of school at both. We all wish him well with his future plans. 

I know you will all be joining me in thanking Mr Hicks and wishing him the very best. I am sure you are also thinking of the future of our schools and how we can go on improving and providing the very best education for your children. 

I am delighted to share with you that, after an outstanding year as Head of School, Alison Harbottle will assume the role of Headteacher for the academic year ahead. Miss Harbottle is well known to you as she has made a significant impact already in her time with us, ensuring The Charter School East Dulwich has the talented staff, strong systems, family relationships and successful sixth form to thrive as a large comprehensive. Challenge Partners celebrated this impact in a recent external review of the school. 

Miss Harbottle has benefited from Mr Hicks’ mentoring and guidance over the past year. I am confident the school is in very safe hands as we look to the future. 

As always, please don't hesitate to contact Miss Harbottle or me if you have any questions. We are looking forward to another exciting year with you and your children. 

Best wishes 

Cassie Buchanan, CEO   


To parents, carers, colleagues and governors at The Charter School North Dulwich and The Charter School East Dulwich

Dear all,

I am writing to inform you that I am leaving my role as Executive Headteacher of The Charter Schools East and North Dulwich. My late father once said to me, "Make sure you find yourself a job that you enjoy going into on a Monday morning, because there are a lot of Monday mornings between now and 65”. I feel incredibly lucky that for the last nine years at Charter North and latterly at Charter East I have loved going to work every day of the week because I have worked alongside so many brilliant colleagues, helped to educate so many fantastic students, and been supported by such wonderful parents and carers. The fact that I had previously not stayed at any of my previous schools longer than three years hopefully shows you all how much I have loved Charter!

When I joined Charter North nine years ago as an inexperienced new headteacher of a great school, my main aim was not to mess things up! I would like to think I have succeeded in that aim, and I am proud to have played a part in helping to make the two Charter schools not only great places to learn in, but also great places to work in. I have tried my very best to support our students to thrive and flourish, our staff to be happy and engaged, and our parents to be confident that their child is safe and successful. In that regard, I would like to thank the current CEO, Cassie Buchanan, the previous CEO Kieran Osborne, and Trustees and Governors past and present for their support for me, as well as for their commitment and dedication to our students and staff.

I have always said to the staff that we don't do what we do because of Ofsted or Performance Tables, but because we believe that, as Nelson Mandela said, "education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”. I have tried my very best to create schools with a deep sense of ambition, compassion and optimism for the young people in our community, and I hope I have always demonstrated a fierce commitment to supporting them to create a brighter future for themselves and a better world for everyone.

Having said that, I won't deny that the recent outstanding Ofsted at Charter North and the excellent first set of GCSE results at Charter East were pleasing. However, in many ways I am more proud of other less obvious achievements: our status as one of the most popular mainstream schools in London for students with SEND; our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion; our success in supporting more vulnerable and disadvantaged students to achieve success; the fact that we are one of the leading schools in the country for the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, and the role I played in supporting the staff, students and parents in our community through the dark days of Covid and the loss of beloved colleagues and students.

I always end up writing more than I intend, but I will finish now, unsurprisingly, with a couple of quotes. Rumi, the 13th Century Poet, wrote that you should "live life as if everything is rigged in your favour”, and so I feel that the time is now right for me to leave the Trust and start a new chapter in my career. I leave, confident that the two schools will improve still further under the skilful leadership of Cassie Buchanan, Mark Pain and Alison Harbottle, and that, as Yazz and the Plastic Population sang, "the only way is up!”

Thanks again for your support, your kindness and your commitment to our young people. Charter will always retain a special place in my heart. I wish you all the very best of luck for the future. 

Christian Hicks