3 children looking at their own PCs

Meet our next Headmaster

The Mall School Governing Body has appointed Mr Sam Gosden as the next Head of The Mall School. He will take up his position in September 2024. Sam has already met with current and new parents at a series of introductory events and there will be further opportunities to meet him throughout the rest of the spring and summer. Here are the answers to some of the questions Sam has already been asked, to help us get to know him before September when we look forward to welcoming him and his family to our happy and supportive community.

What Is Your Background In Education?

I am currently Head of Dolphin School, Clapham – a coeducational school for children aged 2 to 11 – and I have spent 20 years in teaching. I have held Director of Music posts, been Head of Assessment, Head of Digital Strategy and Head of Lower School (11-16).

Why Did You Want To Become Head At The Mall?

I knew of the excellent reputation of The Mall from my time working at Newland House. The school is known for its all-round education, academic results and superb facilities. My visits to the school confirmed for me that this was a very happy school with friendly and supportive pupils, parents and staff. I consider myself to be very fortunate to be appointed as the next Headmaster.

How Would You Describe The Ethos Of Your Current School?

My current school is academically ambitious which is able to nurture the individual child while also gaining places at top selective day schools. I believe strong academic foundations should accompany creative, linguistic, sporting and digital skills in preparing pupils for their next schools and beyond. I am a passionate believer in a richly value-added independent school education, where children are well-rounded, confident learners and have the necessary skills to navigate through the modern world.

How Would Parents At Your Current School Describe You?

Someone who is approachable, trustworthy and consistent. I am a present, active and responsive leader who likes to listen to others and take on views before forming an action plan. I am relational and invested in every child and family’s lives to help support them through their years at the school.

What Visits Do You Have Planned To The Mall Before You Start?

Before I start in September, I am planning to come into school for a number of visits to meet both staff and pupils. I have already met some of the children from Year 3 and above for their ensembles’ concert and I am looking forward to attending other events including the junior sports and senior athletics’ days, and Musicals at The Mall. I am also hoping to take a couple of assemblies in the summer term so the pupils can put a face to the name before I start in September.

What Will You Do In Your First Term At The Mall?

Learn the names of all the pupils at the school and get to understand how the school operates. I want to listen to pupils, staff and parents about what makes the school so special for them. I am also aware, as a parent who has just gone through the 11+ process with my oldest son, that the autumn term is a critical time for pupils and parents. I want to be ready to support them in their journey to choose the right school.

How Will You Get To Know The Pupils?

In the autumn term I will be getting to know the children through reading stories, taking assemblies and meeting them at break and lunchtimes. Just as I currently do I will also be doing some teaching, probably with the older classes as they will be preparing for the 11+ assessment.

How Will You Get To Know The Staff?

I have already met a number of the staff informally during the recruitment process, at school events and after my meetings with current and prospective parents. During the summer term there will be further opportunities to get to know them and in the autumn term I will be having individual professional development meetings with all staff.

What Experience Do You Have Of Working With Nursery Age Children?

My current school has two nurseries, supporting over 65 children. I meet with the heads of nurseries weekly to discuss individual pupils, curriculum development and the children’s transition to the prep school. I also have a two-year-old son whom I hope will join The Mall Nursery in due course. I visit the nurseries each week, including with Year 6 pupils, to support the children and the staff. I know our current nursery pupils as equally as I do Year 6 pupils.

How Will You Plan For The Integration Of Girls As They Move Through The School?

As this exciting new journey of co-education moves through the school, it is important to me that opportunities are maintained for all pupils. Strategic training and support for staff development and regular communication and feedback with pupils and parents will help ensure the culture and ethos of the school remains true to the values of The Mall. We will constantly refine and hone the provision for all children at The Mall whether in a co-ed or an all-boys’ class.

What Are Your Thoughts On Co-Educational Provision For Music And Drama?

I know that the standard of music and drama is very high at The Mall, as is the opportunity of involvement for all pupils. Just as in my current school, The Mall will offer a range of opportunities for girls and boys to perform on stage in the theatre starting from the nursery. All the musical activities, including various choirs, bands and orchestras, as well as individual lessons to learn a musical instrument, will be offered to all. I am committed to all children being encouraged to embrace all the opportunities the school offers both inside and outside of the classroom.

What Sports Will Be Offered To Boys And Girls As They Move Through The School?

From Reception boys and girls have weekly PE and swimming lessons and beginning in Year 2 an afternoon of games then two afternoons from Year 3 onwards. I want to be able to offer the same range of sports that are currently provided (rugby, football and cricket) but look to introduce others that will be of interest to boys and girls (softball, netball and hockey). I believe that all children should have the opportunity to represent their school no matter what their sporting ability and this can be in single sex or mixed teams.

What Experience Do You Have Of Supporting Pupils And Parents With The 11+ Process?

Just as currently happens at The Mall, I start meeting parents one-to-one from Year 4. As a parent myself, who has just gone through the 11+ process with my son, I well understand how stressful it can seem at times. I believe that by giving parents timely feedback and information this can help to relieve some of the anxiety and help smooth out the process as much as possible.

How Will You Form Links With Senior Schools?

From my time at Newland House and Tower House I already know a number of the senior schools that The Mall regularly sends pupils to. I will also be attending the school’s senior school fair in March to meet their admissions teams and I have already set up visits to a number of these schools for the summer term. Relationships with the senior schools are very important to me on an ongoing basis.

How Will You Support The Year 5 Pupils As They Move Into Year 6 In September?

Mr Price will be sharing with me the senior school references he will be writing at the end of the summer term. We are also planning to have shared one-to-one online meetings in the summer term with Year 5 parents to discuss the senior schools their children will be sitting for in the autumn term. In September the Year 6 pupils will be taking a series of standardised assessments which I will be analysing with the deputy head, Mr Fair, and which form part of the reference supplied by The Mall.

What Are Your Thoughts On The Balance Between Traditional Teaching And More Modern Methods?

I believe in a modern education which is based on the principles of traditional methods, especially when some areas of the 11+ assessment process are handwritten (as are public exams at 16 and 18 years old). The advent of adaptive testing through platforms such as BOFA (which I am well accustomed to) allow for a modern approach to teaching and learning. I believe pupils should have an exercise book, a textbook, a device when appropriate, but also additional facilities such as write-on desks or glass walls in which to share ideas collaboratively as a group.

Where Do You See The Mall In Five Years’ Time?

In five years’ time The Mall will enjoy a co-ed environment where boys and girls seamlessly access their learning in an enjoyable and enriching setting. Relevant skills in technology, media and Artificial Intelligence will be well-embedded into the curriculum in a manner which fits a strong and robust education that is adapted to the changes we will face in education. The facilities are fantastic at The Mall, and the school development plan will reflect any changes and improvements we plan and implement over the coming years.

What Do You Do To Relax?

Cycling, dog walking, gardening and spending time with my family. We like to travel and will be spending time in Malaysia this Easter with family, and hopefully enjoying an overnight jungle and volcano trek during our stay on Lombok.

Which Football Team Do You Support?

Arsenal although bizarrely my middle son supports Tottenham.

Beyond the classroom