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Relationships vital, says new school head

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At the helm: new Warwick Academy principal Dave Horan says he believes in people rather than bricks and mortar, and wants his students to excel and lead (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Although a new chapter in Warwick Academy’s long history begins next week, new principal Dave Horan has his eyes firmly fixed on building relationships as well as a happy and successful environment.

The school’s new head, who has been at Warwick Academy for more than a decade in a range of teaching roles, is keen to expand the co-curriculum programme outside the classroom.

He says he hopes to continue the excellent work of his predecessor, Maggie McCorkell, while putting his own stamp on where Warwick Academy goes next.

“I am a big believer that the best schools have the best relationships,” Mr Horan said. “It’s not about the bricks and mortar, it’s about people and the interaction between the teachers and the students.

“Many of the best school memories and experiences also happen outside the classroom, which is why it’s so important to have a robust co-curriculum programme.

“The classroom is obviously vital, but it is the things that go on around that make a great school.”

Mr Horan began his teaching career at Parktown Boys High School in his native South Africa before moving to London where he initially taught at the secondary comprehensive school in Carshalton before moving to King’s College School in Wimbledon.

He and his family moved to Bermuda in 2006 and he first taught ICT, Geography and Business at Warwick. Two years later he took on the deputy head’s role that he combined with Head of Secondary in 2013.

“Any school has to evoke change,” he said. “We want to be leaders and be aware of what is going on inside and outside Bermuda. My goal has always been being the best teacher I can be, I did not think I was destined to become a leader of a school.

“I’m humble enough to say when I don’t know something, I will go and find it out. For me, school is a big classroom.”

While Mr Horan may now be looking at Warwick Academy through his principal glasses, he also looks at the school from a parent perspective; he has a son, Luke, and a daughter, Tayla, at the school

“From that perspective I want my children to have a fantastic experience at school and grow and mature while they are here,” he said.

“My vision for Warwick is having the right people, keeping the right people and training the right people.

“I believe in flattening leadership. It’s important people feel they can excel and lead, and that includes the students through leadership programmes.

“Results are obviously important, but it is not the be all and end all. They drive a lot of perception, rightly or wrongly, but for me the most important pillar is the pastoral side. We need to have the right relationships. If students are meeting their potential and leave as good decision-makers we are ticking that box.”

On Tuesday, Mr Horan will address staff and pupils as principal for the first time, heralding in a new era at the school which dates back to 1662.

“Warwick has great tradition and history and tremendous spirit,” he said. “I also have huge respect for the school’s diversity and inclusive environment.

“I hope to set a tone at the start of term and make the students feel part of the school. We are all in it together and I will do everything in my power to make sure the school is happy and successful.

“I am most excited about the relationships I can develop in this different role with the staff, the students, the parents and the community.”

New Warwick Academy principal Dave Horan (Photograph by Akil Simmons)