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Ilkley school welcomes new team members and celebrates inspection report

New Head, Mrs Walker and Chair of Governors, Mr Rathbone

Westville House School in Ilkley has welcomed new members to the team and is celebrating an excellent inspection report.

The new head of the school is Mrs Susan Walker, whose background includes small prep and larger schools as well as running a group of private day nurseries.

Mrs Walker explains why she was attracted to the post: “It became quickly apparent to me that Westville House School is indeed a very special place. There is such a wonderful community feel underpinned by the terrific partnership between teachers and parents. The children are, of course, the heart of the school and my absolute priority.

“I am very fortunate to have an outstanding team of existing and new team members ready and eager to take Westville forwards. My vision is to provide a truly well-balanced education and ensure that each child is on the pathway to success. Understanding that children are unique individuals is the key to providing the environment, experiences and education that best facilitates their learning journey.”

“Joining a school initially as Acting Head, just as an inspection was due, was certainly a baptism of fire! Building on the existing good work and quickly implementing priority improvements we were all very much delighted when the Independent Schools Inspectorate gave us a glowing report that reflected the life of the school.  Our school meets all standards, and the report highlights this in all five areas! I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated and talented team.”

One of Mrs Walker’s very first priorities was recruitment, she explains: “We needed to attract an experienced and nurturing Form 3 (Year 5) teacher and it was through my previous post at The Grammar School at Leeds that I immediately identified the perfect fit. Mrs Louisa Cavell brings over 20 years’ in educational proficiency with a range of experience in the independent sector.  With wide interests in a range of subjects and enjoys delivering these as creatively as possible.”

Westville has always provided subject specialists, Mrs Walker wished to select an excellent mathematics teacher for the upper prep department adding: “I am thrilled that we were able to secure Mr Johnathan Southern a self-confessed ‘maths nerd’ who offers a wealth of mathematical expertise.  Mr Southern has experience of a range of mathematical platforms with a sound knowledge of subject pedagogy.  He is an experienced tutor making him the perfect fit for our secondary school entry examination preparations.  

“Mrs Locke has also recently joined us to provide exciting specialist drama teaching across all age groups. Mrs Locke has a wealth of knowledge in prep schools giving her the working knowledge of how important the arts are in this sector.  I am thrilled to welcome all three into our Westville Family.”

Mrs Locke, Mrs Cavell and Mr Southern

Navigating the school through large scale change the school’s Chair of Governors, Adam Holdsworth, has been a stable leader for over six years: “It has been my absolute pleasure to assist the school for the last few years. My own children attended Westville and it has been wonderful to support and celebrate the school’s excellent track record.  It is now however, the right time to hand over the reins to a new chair and we knew Dan Rathbone was the right fit. I feel Mrs Walker and Mr Rathbone will bring fresh perspective and innovative ideas whilst recognising the unique family ethos of the school. I wish the whole team the very best.”


Mr Rathbone has over 20 years’ experience in the tech industry as a senior leader, company founder and software engineer, comments on his new role: “Having been part of the Board of Governors as IT lead for a few years now, I have an in-depth understanding of the school and the many opportunities that lay ahead. I am optimistic that this flurry of change will take Westville House to the next phase of development. In a few short months we have seen continued growth in numbers and the introduction of a range of improvements, all to ensure the very best experience for every child to meet their full potential. I am proud to say my children attend the school, I am committed to the continued success of Westville - the future is bright!”

Mrs Walker welcomes families to visit: “We are inviting prospective parents across all year groups to tour the school and nursery, meet the pupils and the team at a time which is convenient to them. I very much look forward to the future and ensuring educational excellence and care, which very much underpins The Westville Way.”

Improvements are already underway with a new website in development, IT infrastructure for children and parents along with a fresh impetus in the curriculum.  

Westville House School offers co-educational excellence for 2-11 year old children and is located on Carter’s Lane, Middleton, Ilkley.


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