Welcome

A family of leading independent schools based in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, offering high quality education and care for boys and girls aged 5 months to 18 years.

Both Berkhamsted and Amersham are prosperous communities surrounded by beautiful Chiltern countryside, and within easy reach of London by road or public transport.

Our family of six schools combines both single-sex and co-educational teaching.

At the Pre-Prep and Prep, boys and girls are taught together until the age of 11, separately from 11-16 (Berkhamsted Boys and Berkhamsted Girls), before coming back together again in a joint Sixth Form. Heatherton provides a co-educational nursery class (3-4) and single-sex education for girls aged 4 to 11.

Our objectives are: “to promote the education (including social and physical training) of boys and girls and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, to conduct day or day and boarding schools in or near Berkhamsted at which religious education (in accordance with the principles of the Church of England) is provided.”

Meet Our Executive Team

Mr R P Backhouse

MA (CANTAB) Read

Mr R P Backhouse

MA (CANTAB) Close

Richard Backhouse has been Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group since January 2016. He was a boarder both at Cheam School, and Marlborough College, where he won an Exhibition. After a year working on a kibbutz in Israel, in a hotel in the French Alps, and running a bar in his home town, he read Economics at Cambridge, expecting to go on to be a journalist. Experience acting as a ski guide for school children and teaching sailing in the summers for a charity gave him a sense of the value of teaching, and so he went to Oundle School in 1990, expecting to teach only briefly before returning to university to do a PhD, but stayed for six years before moving to Bradfield College. At these schools he variously taught Economics, coached rowing and football, ran a Christian Union, and acquired managerial and leadership experience both running a boarding house and as Director of Pastoral and Extra-curricular activities. In 2005, he was appointed Principal at Monkton Combe School – where he developed the scope and depth of the pupils’ opportunities and achievements. Richard and his wife Debbie have two children and he retains interests in skiing, playing golf badly, reading, and enjoying gadgets.

Mr A Ford

BA Read

Mr A Ford

BA Close

Andy Ford joined Berkhamsted as Head of Religion and Philosophy in September 2013, before becoming Deputy Head Academic Performance and moved into the role of Vice Principal in September 2019. Andy completed his PGCE at Durham University in 2005, having achieved a 1st Class Honours degree in Theology at Durham the previous year. His teaching career began not too far away from Berkhamsted at St Albans School where he was at various times a Housemaster, Head of DofE and Head of Religious Studies. Married to Kate, Andy has two sons and tries to keep fit with an interest in running, and rugby refereeing. He wishes he could find more time for music but does sing in his local church choir having grown up as a chorister at Ely Cathedral.

Mrs T L Evans

CIPD (FlnstLM) Read

Mrs T L Evans

CIPD (FlnstLM) Close

Tracey Evans is the Chief People Officer (CPO) at Berkhamsted Schools Group. With a wealth of experience in Industry Tracey joined Berkhamsted School in 2007. She spent 16 years in Banking, where she studied and attained her CIPD qualification during her role as an HR Specialist and Management trainer. Before leaving the bank Tracey held the position of Bank Manager for two years. Spending the next five years in an engineering company Tracey developed their HR portfolio before diversifying once more into the world of Education. With 580 staff, a Group of Schools which includes a Day Nursery, and an annual turnover of £28m, the challenges of managing the HR and Payroll for the Group are varied and require her to be up to date with the ever changing employment law and best practice. In this role Tracey offers professional advice to other smaller independent schools who have benefited from Berkhamsted’s pioneering initiatives. Tracey has two daughters who are Old Berkhamstedians. She enjoys travel, horse-riding, getting out and about in the countryside and spending time with her family.

Mr J Anthony

BSc, FCA Read

Mr J Anthony

BSc, FCA Close

Julian Anthony was appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2018. Julian was previously the Chief Financial and Operating Officer at Norwood – one of the UK’s oldest charities employing over 1,000 people, assisted by hundreds of volunteers, supporting vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and people with learning disabilities. As a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales he has held a variety of senior finance positions including those at BT, T-Mobile and Premier Foods. Julian graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Accounting and Computing, and is a former pupil of The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School. Julian, who is married to Wendy, an Educational Psychologist, is an avid Arsenal supporter and keeps fit by either running, swimming or going to the gym most days which he claims is essential just to keep pace with his three energetic children.

Mr M Walker

BA Read

Mr M Walker

BA Close

Martin Walker joined Berkhamsted as the Headteacher of Berkhamsted Sixth in September 2017. He was educated at Barnard Castle School where he was Head of School. He studied French and German at Nottingham University and enjoyed gap years in France, Germany and Austria where he taught English, skied and played rugby. He completed a PGCE at Cambridge University before taking up his first teaching post at the Perse School where he became Deputy Head of the Lower School. He then moved to Harrow School where he spent seven years as Head of Department and four years as the House Master of West Acre House. He has coached rugby, hockey and cricket and led Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. He has volunteered for charities to help underprivileged children. He is married to Liz with whom he has two daughters who go to Berkhamsted School. Martin enjoys all sports, mindfulness, psychology and reading.

Ms E Watson

BEng Read

Ms E Watson

BEng Close

Emma Watson is Headteacher of Berkhamsted Girls. She came to Berkhamsted in 2018 as Deputy Head Wellbeing and moved to the Sixth two years later, before taking up her current role in September 2022. Earlier in Ms Watson’s career, she spent six years in the Army Air Corps as a Pilot and Flight Commander, and has taught at Stowe, Harrow and Wycombe Abbey, where she was a boarding housemistress. Originally from County Down, Ms Watson read Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester, holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Buckingham University, and is currently undertaking an MBA part-time at Salford University. She is also trained in Graydin coaching and restorative approaches. Ms Watson is married with two children; her interests include long distance running and netball.

Mr T Hadcroft

MSc, MRes, MA Read

Mr T Hadcroft

MSc, MRes, MA Close

Tom Hadcroft has joined Berkhamsted Boys School as Headteacher from DLD College London, where he was Senior Deputy Head, overseeing on the Pastoral and Boarding sides of the school for five years. During this time DLD College London were recognised with six national awards, including Boarding School of the year and innovation awards in Mental Health, Wellbeing and Student voice. Previously, he had school leadership roles at Collège Alpin Beau Soleil in Switzerland and St John’s School Leatherhead. Before his teaching career he worked in the finance sector and has recently completed a Masters in Educational Leadership, with a focus on coaching in education.

Mrs N Nicoll

MEd, BSc Read

Mrs N Nicoll

MEd, BSc Close

Nicola Nicoll joined Berkhamsted Schools Group as the Headteacher of Heatherton in September 2020. Nicola has worked in Independent Primary or Prep Schools for over 20 years. She started as a science teacher at Thomas’ Preparatory School in Clapham, after completing her BSc in Biomedical Sciences and Post-Graduate Certificate in Education from Liverpool University. Nicola then became Head of Science and Head of Middle School at Westminster Under School in London and more recently as the Deputy Head at Badminton Junior School in Bristol. Nicola recently attained her Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Buckingham. She is married to George and together they both enjoy travelling whenever possible to continually learn and have fun exploring. Nicola also enjoys reading, art and sculpture, and taking part in outdoor activities with family and friends.

Mr J Hornshaw

MEd, BEd, NPQH, FlnstLM Read

Mr J Hornshaw

MEd, BEd, NPQH, FlnstLM Close

Jamie Hornshaw is the Headteacher of Berkhamsted Preparatory School. After attending Borden Grammar School in Kent, Jamie completed his Bachelors degree at the University of Plymouth and attained his Masters at the University of Buckingham. He has spent his entire career in the Independent Sector and was Deputy Headmaster at Brentwood Preparatory School before moving to live abroad when he took up the post of Headmaster of The British School of Paris Junior School in France. This is a large British Overseas school at which Jamie was responsible for opening a £16m purpose-built campus having merged two junior schools together. He has served on the membership committee of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS), has experience as a Governor of a large Independent School Foundation and as an Executive Coach. Jamie is especially passionate about hockey and has umpired at National Level.

Mrs K O’Connor

BA, MA NPQH Read

Mrs K O’Connor

BA, MA NPQH Close

Karen O’Connor is the Headteacher of Berkhamsted Pre-Preparatory School and Berkhamsted Day Nursery.
She attended Saint Michael’s Grammar school in North London, completed a degree in English and History at the University of Southampton, followed by a PGCE, and in recent years attained a Masters in Leadership at University College London.

Karen has been a senior leader for over 20 years, leading across a range of maintained primary schools. This has included holding a number of Deputy Head and Acting Headship posts, working in both the London Borough of Barnet and in the Inner London borough of Camden, prior to coming to take up her post at Berkhamsted. She is committed to ensuring that every child has the best possible start to their educational journey and in addition is a Governor of a maintained all through school in Barnet.
Karen and her husband Richard have a daughter who attends Berkhamsted Girls School. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, playing tennis, swimming, travel and joining her daughter on horse riding hacks.

Mr R C Thompson

BA Read

Mr R C Thompson

BA Close

Richard Thompson is Assistant Vice Principal (External Relations). His early years were spent in Stratford-upon-Avon where he attended King Edward VI School. After graduating in Sports Science at Cardiff, he completed his PGCE at the University of Birmingham before taking up a scholarship at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. His teaching career began in Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet. Richard has worked at Berkhamsted School since September 1998 and, since then, has been a Head of Department, a Head of House and Deputy Head of Boys before becoming Head in September 2013, a position he held for five years. He is married to Laura who teaches at Berkhamsted Pre-Prep and has a son who is an Old Berkhamstedian. As well as having a career in education, Richard has played rugby for Moseley, Ebbw Vale and Saracens, and maintains a keen interest in sport.

Berkhamsted Schools Group in the news

Year 7 Bushcraft Adventures

Year 7 Bushcraft Adventures

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Year 2 Go Out of this World

Year 2 Go Out of this World

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Memorial Oak planted in Queen’s memory

Memorial Oak planted in Queen’s memory

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New Year 7 and Year 9 Pupils welcomed for Induction Days

New Year 7 and Year 9 Pupils welcomed for Induction Days

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End of Term Reflections

End of Term Reflections

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  • ABOUT US

    Our history

    Berkhamsted School was founded in 1541 by John Incent, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral.

    History