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Meet Our Senior Leaders
Mr David Astin, Executive Principal
Mr Astin has been teaching for 20 years, and with the Harris Federation since 2008. He began his career at a large school in Milton Keynes in 1995 and then taught at a very successful girls' school in Carshalton.
In 2008, Mr Astin was appointed Assistant Principal of our sister school, Harris City Academy Crystal Palace. After that, he was a leader of the Harris Sixth Form and later the Principal of Harris Girls’ Academy Bromley.
During this time, he helped to lay the educational foundations of the Harris Westminster Sixth Form, a collaboration with Westminster School which aims to prepare London’s brightest state school pupils for entry to the world’s best universities. Mr Astin, who lives in Beckenham with his young family, was appointed Executive Principal of Harris Academy Orpington in September 2018.
Mr Richard Carey, Head of Academy
Mr Carey joined Harris Academy Orpington in April 2019.
He is an experienced senior leader who has worked for the Harris Federation for several years at Harris Boys' Academy East Dulwich and Harris Garrard Academy.
Mr Gareth Lewis, Vice Principal
Mr Lewis leads on the Academy’s accountability cycle and curriculum, including timetable. He is also responsible for associated staffing including CPD/PM planning and tracking, and subject data tracking including examinations and access arrangements.
Mrs Bianca Collett, Vice Principal
Bianca Collett is the Vice Principal in charge of teaching and learning across Harris Girls’ Academy Bromley and Harris Academy Orpington. Before joining Harris Girls’ Academy Bromley, she was an Assistant Head of an outstanding school in Lambeth. She began her career as a teacher of Modern Foreign Languages more than 20 years ago and has a joint honours degree in German and English.
She went into teaching after spending a year abroad as a Foreign Language Assistant as part if her English degree and enjoyed the daily contact with students of all backgrounds, their idiosyncrasies and individual needs. It inspired her to do a postgraduate degree and work as a language teacher in England.
As a department lead, her focus is to make languages authentic with school exchanges and work experience for the sixth form in France Germany and Spain.
Now as the Vice Principal at Bromley Girls’ Academy Bromley and Harris Academy Orpington, her determination is that all pupils see the world as their oyster and the sky as the limit. In her practice, she focuses on challenging lessons to help our students to question things, reflect and become self-directed. We are striving to instill in lessons not to give up at the first hurdle, as mistakes are there to be learnt from.
Her two life philosophies are: ‘fall down seven times, get up the eighth time’ and ‘you can keep going long after you think you can’t’.
Ms Sarah Donnelly, Vice Principal
Sarah Donnelly joined Harris Academy Orpington this academic year as a Vice Principal and line manages the Blue and Red Faculties as well as the Safeguarding team. Sarah studied English Literature at Lancaster University and is an experienced teacher of both English and Psychology. Sarah has a special interest in Growth Mindset and a strong belief in the potential of every single child; she is currently studying her MSc in Neuroscience with King's College London and is fascinated in research into neuroplasticity; especially in how this research will inform teaching practice in the future.
Ms Fay Humphries, Faculty Director (Blue)
Biography to follow.
Miss Clare Boyd, Faculty Director
Miss Boyd has been working at Harris Academy Orpington since its opening in September 2016. She is the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) for the Academy and leads on welfare and PREVENT. Before joining Harris Academy Orpington, she worked at The Priory School, starting as a middle leader with responsibility for Science. She then moved into senior management leading on Year 11, SMSC and Safeguarding.
Miss Boyd has a passion for Science, especially Chemistry teaching throughout the year groups, striving for each child to achieve their full potential.
Mr Adam Lewis, Faculty Director (Green)
Biography to follow.
Mrs Karen Lettington, SENCO
Mrs Lettington is an experienced teacher and senior leader. She aspired to work at Harris Academy Orpington because Orpington is where she was born and educated. In September 2015 she embarked on her own learning journey of how best to support children with additional needs, which included becoming a qualified SENCO. Her aim is to support pupils and families through the challenges and opportunities of having special educational needs. She herself is dyslexic, and her two children have special educational needs. She hopes her own experiences and training helps pupils and parents to have high expectations and realise what potential we all possess.
Mrs Nicola Fletcher, Head of PE
Mrs Fletcher has been teaching for 13 years and has worked on this site when we were The Priory School, before joining the Harris Federation. She coordinates the theoretical and practical elements of the PE curriculum; as well as oversees the extra-curricular programme within the PE department.
Mrs Fletcher studied at the University of Southampton and attained her degree in Sports Studies. She then went onto study at the University of Greenwich to complete her PGCE in secondary education.
She started as Head of Physical Education in September 2015 and endeavors to inspire a lifelong love of sport and exercise amongst the students.
Ms Nathalie Dopchies, Head of MFL
Ms Dopchies has been teaching French in Bromley (Orpington and Chislehurst) for about 25 years and has been working at Harris Academy Orpington for three years. She started her career in a special needs school. As well as leading the MFL faculty, she is a mentor, training and supporting new teachers entering the profession. She was lead mentor for MFL for 16 years, managing a team of mentors in ten Bromley schools and overseeing the training of new teachers.
Ms Dopchies believes in students being offered a broad curriculum and the opportunity to study languages in order to prepare the citizens of the future. She is keen to develop students’ curiosity and love of different cultures but also to nurture their development and engagement with their own studies.
Mrs Louise Woolmer, Head of Art, Design and Technology
Mrs Woolmer has been teaching for 22 years and joined The Priory School (now Harris Academy Orpington) in 2014.
Previously, Mrs Woolmer taught art at Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge for 17 years, where she became Head of Art and NQT Induction Tutor, moving on to being the ITT Lead of the Training School and Teaching School.
Mrs Woolmer worked closely with local schools, various teacher training establishments and was also an art tutor at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is passionate about arts education at all levels whether as a pupil or trainee teacher. She continually strives to improve the art and design provision and increase the numbers opting for the subject. Results and pupil numbers have grown and the range of experiences we offer the pupils has widened. Mrs Woolmer is keen for pupils to have a broader awareness of the importance of art and design and strive for all pupils to achieve the best of their ability.
Mr Will Smith, Head of Geography
Mr Smith completed his teacher training at the University College London. As part of his course he completed two placements; one at the current site of Harris Academy Orpington, and the other at a contrasting Harris Academy in South East London. Prior to this, Mr Smith obtained a degree in Geography, specialising in the human aspect of regeneration.
Before joining Harris Academy Orpington, he taught as a Head of Department in Bristol before returning to where he trained. Together with all teachers within the Geography department, Mr Smith is a passionate teacher who strives for all the pupils at the Academy to achieve the best of their ability.
Mrs Amy Harrison, Head of Sixth Form and Social Sciences
Mrs Harrison joined Harris Orpington in 2014 as an NQT and has developed to Head of Sixth Form having established the Social Science department as Head of Subject.
After leaving university she was inspired to work with children having worked at a drug and alcohol service in Brixton, to make a positive difference.
Mrs Harrison holds an undergraduate degree in Forensic Investigation and Social Science and an MA in Education (Inclusion) where her dissertation explored how we can teach resilience to children. She is also a counselling psychotherapist in integrative therapy.
Mrs Harrison aims to bring together her experiences, to develop the sixth form, supporting her students as they enter the next stage of their lives. She aims to ensure they are introduced to all opportunities available, making the best choices for them.
Mrs Harrison is passionate in ensuring all students leave our school with the academic qualifications to open doors and are empowered, autonomous and resilient, ready to face life’s challenges.
Mr Wesley Davidson, Head of History
Mr Davidson was brought up in Burnley in the North West of England and he joined the Harris Federation as Head of History when he relocated to the South East in the summer of 2018. He has an undergraduate Honours Degree and a Masters Degree in History, both from the University of Manchester. During his studies he specialised in the First World War and twentieth century international relations.
He completed his PGCE at Durham University in 2013 and this included placements at an outstanding secondary school in Hartlepool and a school for children with special educational needs in Spennymoor, County Durham. His early career was spent in Blyth in the North East of England, where he took on the challenge of transforming the History Department and introducing new curriculum specifications for GCSE and A level, resulting in vastly improved results. Mr. Davidson also took on the additional responsibility of setting up and managing the school’s participation on the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award programme. The introduction of this initiative was hugely successful and the school is now regarded as one of the flagship schools for the DofE Award in Northumberland.
Mr Davidson feels passionately about the way that education, both inside and outside of the classroom, can empower young people, by giving them life-changing experiences and a sense of accomplishment, personal worth, confidence and self-belief that will positively equip them for the challenges they will face throughout their lives.