Over the summer break, we caught up with Anthony Simpson, new Principal of ESMS, and asked him to tell us more about his career before moving to ESMS and his plans for the future.

Tell us a little about your career before you moved to ESMS, what subject did you teach before you moved into management and how did you find it moving from private to state then back to private sector education.

I started my career teaching maths at Giggleswick, a boarding school in North Yorkshire.  I was there for nine years in a variety of roles, from Mathematic teacher to Assistant Director of studies, living in the boarding house and ending my tenure there as Head of Mathematics.  I felt I was a strong teacher and I wanted to see if this was true in different environments, so I moved to become an Assistant Principal in an inner-city school in Liverpool; in one of the most deprived areas in the UK.  I was living there during the week and travelling home at weekends, so whilst I had success with my role, after some time I wanted to spend more time with my family.  I applied to a school in Keighley that was about to go into special measures for the role of Vice Principal.  The aim was to turn the school around and make a big impact, which my management team and I managed to achieve.  After this challenge I then wanted to focus more on the pastoral side of school leadership, so I moved back to the boarding school at Giggleswick as the Senior Deputy Head.

Tell us about your life outside of school. I’ve heard you’re a triathlete, how do you find time for the training required and how often do you get to compete in tournaments?

Prior to moving to Edinburgh, I used to compete in triathlons in various competitions in North Yorkshire, the Lakes and Scotland.  I find if I train I work more effectively, so I have to make time for some form of exercise.  I’m very goal orientated so I need something to work towards.  I’ve only raced once this year but I do have the European Championships in Bilbao in a couple of months.  I also do a lot of walking with my black Labrador over the hills in Edinburgh and on the beach.

What do you see as the main area of development for ESMS as a whole in the coming years?  What is your vision for the future of the schools?

The vision will be developed with the Senior Leadership Team, incorporating the views of our staff and School community.  We need to stick close to the values, but we also need to invest time developing our educational offer so that we set ourselves apart from other schools in Edinburgh.  The most immediate challenge is steadying the ship after Covid and steering the School safely through the upcoming political and economic climate.

You spent a year as Head of Stewart’s Melville College before taking the step up to Principal.  What did you learn during that year that has helped to shape your vision?

I learned an awful lot about the Scottish education system, the staff and how much the school means to them personally and I got to know the children very well, all of which I have really enjoyed. Working closely alongside The Mary Erskine School and ESMS Junior School gave me a good feel for what the staff, parents and pupils across ESMS want from the Schools. 

What has been the most challenging part of working at ESMS so far?

Gaining an understanding of all three Schools and their different traditions is a challenge when you first arrive and of course getting to know people in a short space of time can be a challenge too but it’s actually a challenge I really enjoy. I am really looking forward to getting to know my colleagues in other parts of the schools over the course of this year and exploring how I can best support them to move forward. 

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