Leaders/Governors | Thorpe Hall School



Senior Leadership Team

Stephen Duckitt


After graduating as a secondary science and maths teacher, my career has also included a varied background in education leadership in various countries, including leadership roles in South Africa, the UAE and the UK.

Previous headships include Ballard School (3-16, co-ed, day, NOR 600), Bournemouth Collegiate School(3-18, co-ed, day and boarding, NOR 650) and Safa Community School (3-18, co-ed, day, NOR 2000).

I am excited to now have the chance to lead Thorpe Hall School and hope that my 25 years' experience as a headteacher will enable me to work with the amazing team at this school to enable us to build on the successes of the past.

I have passion for learning and teaching that is relevant, forward-thinking and that ensures everyone is challenged to improve. Schools are about children, and therein lies the very reason why I am a teacher and a headteacher; to enable all the pupils to have the very best educational opportunities and experiences so that they are prepared in the best possible way for future success and happiness.

Richard Turner

Deputy Head Senior School (Curriculum)

As a huge fan of all sports, but particularly rugby, it was especially rewarding to attend and graduate from St Marys in Twickenham with an Bsc Hons in Sports Science with QTS. I spent nine years teaching PE in a Boys' Grammar School in Rochester - one of the top 20 schools in the country - before coming to THS with the remit of raising the profile and provision of sports. I was part of the team that designed and delivered The Seaglass Centre project.

Promoted to Deputy Head in 2015, I am responsible for the Senior School Curriculum and GCSE Options and, as Exams Officer, I oversee examination and assessment from CATs to GCSEs.

I am also the Educational Visits Co-ordinator here, helping to provide the amazing range of trips and excursion opportunities we offer. My most ambitious and memorable trip was The World Challenge expedition to Tanzania. I'm still working on my goal to arrange a Cricket tour to Barbados!

I believe in giving 100% to everything, and making the most of every opportunity available - always encouraging pupils to give new things a try, broaden their horizons and really embrace and invest in themselves and their school experience.

Roxi Sheern

Deputy Head Senior School (Pastoral)

I have been teaching for over 20 years in both maintained and independent sectors - mostly in large, secondary school settings, where each year group has around the same number of children as the whole of Thorpe Hall.

I was a PE teacher for many years before progressing to Head of Girls' PE and then Head of Department.

My growing interest and passion for pupil wellbeing and safeguarding led to a very natural migration into a Pastoral Care role and, before joining THS, I was Associate Assistant Head and then Assistant Head at James Hornsby School

I am Deputy Head of Senior School here, with responsibilty for safeguarding and pupils' wellbeing and welfare. Working at Thorpe Hall has been a long-held ambition. I love the ethos of this school and that all our staff are committed to ensuring children learn and grow in a safe, happy and successful environment.

My personal goal is to be there for every child if needed, and to help all our pupils become resourceful, resilient young people motivated and well-equipped to go on to lead their best lives.

Jade Peterson

Co-Head Preparatory School

After a successful career in London working in visual merchandising, I travelled for several years, eventually returning to England, with both a husband and daughter, to enter the teaching profession.

I joined Thorpe Hall School in 2013 as a Year 6 teacher. I continued with my professional development, becoming PSHE (Personal, Social, Health & Economic) Lead, and then moving on to whole-school development initiatves and overseeing the tracking of progress and attainment.

Every day is a learning opportunity for us all; I model to the children the importance of high aspirations and endeavour - as our school motto reads, per ardua stabilise esto - be firm through difficulties.

Since my promotion to Co-Head of Prep School alongside Mr Ramdin in 2019, I have constantly strived to further raise standards by enriching the already broad curriculum and encouraging both staff and pupils to immerse themselves in the holistic culture.

Under the leadership of Mr Duckitt, I remain excited about the future and am committed to ensuring that all pupils benefit from as many engaging and exciting ‘collisions with opportunities,’ so that every child can reach their full potential.

Chris Ramdin

Co-Head Preparatory School

I have been teaching for nearly 25 years and at Thorpe Hall School for quite a number of these, taking my present role of Co-Head of Prep School in 2019.

Prior to teaching, I worked in banking, engineering and in retail, so I have experience in a number of different areas.

Everyone learns differently, with varied interests and skillsets, and it is important that our children have the chance to experience a multitude of learning opportunities.

Learning does not just happen in the classroom but happens when the children immerse themselves in all sorts of activities.

I feel that it is important to provide our pupils with a variety of skills, and an understanding of the world we are in, as we are preparing them for careers that may not as yet even exist.

Resilience, respect and hard work are areas in which I have high expectations as these are key to our children’s future successes.

Mark Upward

Specialist Leader of Education, SEND

I have been teaching for over 20 years and have worked predominantly as a SENDCO and Senior Leader. My roles have also included advisory work across Essex and the Eastern Region as a Specialist Leader of Education for SEND. I have worked with all age groups across the state sector and successfully introduced models of good practice within these settings, enabling learners to flourish at all levels.

My personal belief is that of “Learning differences not difficulties” and Thorpe Hall’s commitment to breaking down barriers to learning and valuing each and every learner strongly resonates with me and attracted me to the school.

The future at Thorpe Hall School is very exciting and I am thrilled to be part of it.

Nicki Cocks

School Business Manager

I have worked as a School Business Manager for over 10 years in both primary and secondary schools and from this I have gained a wealth of experience. I enjoy the variation and challenges that come with this role and I am determined to support the school to achieve the best possible outcomes for the pupils it serves.

Being part of the Senior Leadership team here at Thorpe Hall School allows me to have an insight into the teaching, learning and personal development of pupils. I use my extensive knowledge of school business management to ensure the school can operate smoothly and efficiently for all members of the school community. I am excited to work under the leadership of Mr Duckitt to continue to move the school forward and to give my best for the families and community of Thorpe Hall.

School Governors


Governing Board Members required

Date appointed to board: 2023

Are you looking for an exciting opportunity to take on the challenge of becoming a governor at an independent school? We are looking for people who are as passionate about education as we are. This is an exciting role that requires a mix of business acumen, strategic thinking, and a commitment to making a positive difference to the educational outcomes of our amazing pupils.

We need individuals who have a passion for education, with the ability to review financial information, strategic plans, and the courage to question matters of education governance. You may be an ex pupil of the school or may have no links at all with us.

If you believe you have the skills and qualities we are looking for, then we would welcome your application – please email hr@thorpehallschool.co.uk for more information.

Mr Jonathan Gorridge

Chair of Governors Attends Finance, Health & Safety, Education & Personnel Committees

Date appointed to board: 2013

Jonathan attended Thorpe Hall School from the age of 5 until passing the 11 plus, when he went on to Southend High School for Boys. Upon completing A Levels, he joined a local accountancy practice, where he has worked his way up to be one of the senior partners. In his spare time, he enjoys all sports and flying, having obtained his pilots’ licence in 2009. He is pleased to add that his children have also followed in his footsteps within the school, with both children having joined in Nursery and his eldest now in the Senior School and his youngest in the Prep School. In addition, the family commitment to the school is bolstered, by his wife, Heidi, who is the Chair of the PTA.

To contact Jonathan, please email: jgorridge@thorpehallschool.co.uk or write to Chair of Governors, Thorpe Hall School, Wakering Road, Southend On Sea SS1 3RD. Correspondence can be marked private and confidential.

Mr Michael Reddan

Vice-chair of Governors Chair of Finance Committee

Date appointed to board: 1989

Mike has been a governor for over 30 years and brings invaluable knowledge of the world of business and finance. He is Vice-chair of Governors, a position he has held since 2003. He is also the Chair of the School’s Finance Committee. Mr Reddan’s experience in the construction industry has been invaluable in guiding the school’s growing footprint on its existing site over the last 20 years.
Mike’s 4 children were all educated at Thorpe Hall School.

Mrs Michelle Diaper

Designated Governor for Safeguarding Attends Education & Personnel Committee

Date appointed to board: 2019

Michelle worked at Thorpe Hall school from 2007 until 2014. During her employment she was an LSA in the senior school, and taught Maths to Years 7 and 8. Michelle was also a form tutor, a role in which she was able to demonstrate her pastoral care skills. Michelle also led the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and helped many pupils pass both bronze and silver awards.
Both of her children were educated in the senior school. Michelle’s hobbies include; gardening, walking her dogs, touring the UK in her campervan and spending time with family and friends.

Dr Jane Ladner

Chair of Education & Personnel Committee

Date appointed to board: 2019

Jane joined the board in 2019 bringing with her a wealth of experience in the education sector. Jane’s career began as a teacher and has subsequently included senior roles within the Department of Children & Learning at Southend Borough Council, as a consultant for Cambridge Education - advising on school improvement plans, 7 years as an OFSTED inspector, a visiting professor/part-time lecturer at Essex University and most recently as a consultant for the Education Development Trust. In her spare time she is a Rotarian
Jane is the Chair of the Education & Personnel Committee.

Mrs Serena Mereu

Attends Finance Committee & Health & Safety Committee

Date appointed to board: 2019

Serena has a degree in Education and taught in East London for 10 years across EYFS, KS1 and KS2 before having her children. She moved to Thorpe Bay in 2017 and has 2 children at Thorpe Hall School, the youngest starting in Nursery next year. She is a parent representative and an active member of the PTA. Her interests include travel and floristry.

Mrs Emily Lambert

Vice-chair Finance Committee Attends Health & Safety Committee

Date appointed to board: 2019

Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mother to her sons, Emily enjoyed a very fulfilling career in the insurance industry as a senior commercial property underwriter for a Lloyd’s of London syndicate. Her analytical and strategic planning skills together with the ability to develop good working relationships with a diverse range of people have strengthened the board’s expertise.
Emily is the Vice-chair of the Finance Committee and attends Health & Safety Committee.

Mrs Cheryl Bertschi BEM

Date appointed to board: 2022

Cheryl worked at Thorpe Hall school from 2012 until 2019, undertaking the roles of Head of Early Years and School Development Officer. She has been teaching in the education sector for 30 years, ranging from Early Years Teacher to teaching soldiers in the Israeli Defence Force.
After living in the Middle East for 10 years, she moved to Switzerland and then onto Denmark and then finally back to England.
Cheryl is currently a lecturer at Southend Adult College teaching Early Years Educators and Teaching Assistants.
When not at work, she is involved in the local community, helping to run a soup kitchen for the homeless and also sits as a magistrate.