Meet the Prep Team
Mr Mike Farmer – Executive Head
Mike Farmer joined St Teresa’s in September 2012. He began his career teaching Economics and Business at the Godolphin School in Salisbury, taking up the position of Assistant Head at Headington School in Oxford in 1997. In 2003 he was appointed Principal of Kilgraston School in Perthshire. He transformed the school to achieve the highest growth rate within the sector and also topped the Scottish academic league tables. In 2011, Kilgraston gained national recognition by being named the UK Independent School of the Year.
Under Mike’s headship, St Teresa’s has experienced dramatic growth of 60%, enabling capital investment of over £5m. With a roll of 650 pupils, St. Teresa’s is currently the largest Catholic independent girls-only school in the UK.
In addition to Headship, Mike was a member of the governing council for the Girls’ Schools Association for many years, and also Chair of the boarding committee. In 2016 he had the honour of chairing the Boarding Schools’ Association. He is a Governor of two independent schools and also chairs the advisory board for the Chinese owned company, Achieve Education.
Mike is supported by his wife Mary-Ann who has worked in boarding for many years. They have two grown up children.
Sarah Conrad – Prep Headteacher
Sarah Conrad (BA Hons Dunelm, PGCE, NPQH) graduated with a degree in English, German and Theology from the University of Durham. After completing her PGCE, she began her career in primary education, teaching in a variety of schools including a four year post in the renowned British International School, Tanglin Trust School, in Singapore.
On her return to the UK, Sarah worked as Director of Music at St Cedd’s Independent School in Chelmsford before moving to New Hall, one of the largest Catholic independent schools in the country, where she worked for 10 years – 3 years as Deputy Head and Director of Music and 7 years as Headteacher. During her Headship, New Hall Preparatory School was judged to be ‘Outstanding’ in both the ISI inspection and the Diocesan inspection.
Sarah joined St Teresa’s school for girls in September 2015. She is passionate about education and has worked on a national level with educationalists such as Shirley Clarke with whom she led an action research group on Assessment for Learning in 2010. She is an inspector for ISI as well as a section 48 inspector for both the Diocese of Brentwood and the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Sarah is a committee member of the national Catholic Independent Schools’ Committee (CISC).
Sarah is married to Simon, a Deacon at Brentwood cathedral, and has two grown-up daughters.
In her free time she enjoys reading, dancing, trips to the theatre, scrapbooking and walking.
Denise Irons – Prep School Deputy Headteacher
Denise joined St Teresa’s in 2014 as Deputy Head of the Prep School after several successful years as Head of English at Tormead’s Junior School.
After completing her Bachelor of Education degree at Cambridge University in 2004, Denise spent the first years of her career in state run schools, quickly becoming subject leader across a range of areas including her specialism of History, mentoring pupilt teachers and joining the Governing body.
Passionate about developing a love of learning in all pupils, Denise has a forward thinking and outward looking ethos. As lead for Assessment, Educational Visits and the Gifted and Talented programme, she works closely with the staff to blend St Teresa’s dynamic and cross curricular approach with the necessary academic rigour and excellence of education that a school such as St Teresa’s demands.
Away from the hill, Denise enjoys historical literature, musical theatre and walking. Denise lives locally and has one daughter who attends Cranmore.
Helen Canning – Director of Pastoral
A St Teresa’s old girl herself, Helen returned to the school as a Prep teacher in 2016. After graduating from St Mary’s University, Twickenham, with a BA (Hons) degree in Primary Education specialising in History, Helen spent the first few years of her career teaching in Marylebone, London. A passion for travel then took her to the United Arab Emirates teaching in a British school in Sharjah, using her holidays to travel in the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Returning to England in 2003 she spent the next few years of her career at a school in Guildford where she took on the role of PSHE coordinator and Pastoral lead. Pastoral care extends to every aspect of school life in order to foster pupils’ personal development as much as their academic progress. This is an area of the curriculum that Helen feels passionate about and has great enjoyment in extending her knowledge and is dedicated to sharing this expertise with others.
Away from school, Helen enjoys walking, musical theatre and historical literature. She lives locally with her husband and three sons.