Meeting Andy Giles, head teacher of Tavistock and Summerhill Nursery and Preparatory School in Haywards Heath

PUBLISHED: 15:44 09 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:44 09 April 2014

He may be a busy head teacher, but Andy Giles still enjoys sharing his passion for maths with his pupils

He may be a busy head teacher, but Andy Giles still enjoys sharing his passion for maths with his pupils


From the Spring 2014 edition of A+ education magazine - The head teacher of Tavistock and Summerhill Nursery and Preparatory School in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, Andy Giles says he loves every moment of his job – and he reckons his school also produces some of the best food he’s ever tasted…

If you hadn’t become a teacher, what would you have done instead?

As a young boy, I was obsessed with fire engines and wanted to join the Fire Brigade, but in later years, I became very interested in education and looked at a career in the Royal Navy as an instructor. I attended AIB interviews, which were pretty rigorous, but I managed to gain my PGCE qualification at the same time. I then accepted a teaching job and, apart from a short break to run my own business, have remained in teaching ever since.

What were your favourite lessons when you were at school?

That’s a very easy answer; maths and PE. These are the two subjects I studied further at degree level and at teacher training college. I have taught both subjects since at a variety of state-funded and independent schools, both junior and senior. It’s a great mix and I love being back in the classroom and ensure that I still teach.

Was there any type of school dinner that you couldn’t stand?

I am still haunted by a particular pudding and the waft still comes back to me from time to time! As I recall, it looked like a cross between tapioca and pink blancmange and the smell of the whole dining hall was horrid! I am delighted that school dinners have moved on considerably and I would say that Tavistock and Summerhill produce the best school food I’ve ever tasted!

How do you like to relax?

I have a wide range of interests and always like to try everything at least once. I am also a great advocate of children trying as many different activities as they can at a young age. This is why I am so keen to see a good choice of options on offer at school across the subject range and in extra-curricular activities.

Which is your favourite film?

I am not a great film or television fan but, through choice, I need a film to be realistic and based upon true happenings. I am always amazed at what other people achieve or predicaments they have got into!

So, your Desert Island Disc...?

My music choice is wide-ranging, from light opera to rock and some eighties music. I was asked recently to select a piece for a very special occasion and chose Fluff by Black Sabbath. It sounds ‘heavy’ given the group, but it is a beautiful instrumental. I have everything from Pink Floyd to the Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus collection in the car.

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what’s the first thing you’d do?

I have a home in Somerset, so my initial reaction would be not to convene yet another meeting of the government’s disaster management committee, Cobra, but to actually do something practical to sort out the flooding mess! My previous answer to this question was to dissolve cabinet for a day and put in place a group of children. This would result in far less squabbling and some coherent and well thought out ideas emerging!


Tavistock and Summerhill Nursery and Preparatory School, Summerhill Lane, Lindfield, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1RP. An independent co-ed nursery and prep school. Tel: 01444 450256/


School of thought...

Maths or English? - Good question to a maths graduate! Part of my Master’s Degree was to study the ‘language’ of mathematics, so probably both!

School dinners or packed lunch? - School dinners every time, especially here at Tavistock and Summerhill. Our menus offer full cooked meals or cold meats and salads with all dietary requirements catered for.

Newsletter or Twitter? - Personally, a piece of paper in my hand is always preferable! However, we are looking at doing more with social media.

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