About The Battle Abbey School Staff, Governors & Headteacher

Battle Abbey School Headteacher

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mrs Hannah Blake as the new Head of Battle Abbey School, taking over from David Clark, who will have completed a highly successful decade as Headmaster at the end of this academic year.

Hannah joined Battle Abbey from Ewell Castle School in Surrey in September 2023, where she was working as Academic Deputy Head. Prior to this, she was Vice Principal at Chelsea Academy.

Hannah brings a wealth of experience having served on four Senior Leadership Teams and taught in six schools across a diverse range of contexts. Hannah said, “I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as Battle Abbey’s next Head. I feel privileged to join such a passionate and dedicated community who clearly have young people’s success at the heart of everything they do. I am looking forward to getting to know the children, parents, staff and governors so we can work together to ensure that Battle Abbey School continues its journey of excellence, and reaches new heights of success.”

Our School Staff

View our current staff list here

With a wealth of experience and a passion for nurturing young minds, our staff members are dedicated to creating a supportive and inspiring learning environment. Their unwavering dedication to the holistic development of each student ensures that they receive the guidance and support needed to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.

Our staff’s collaborative approach fosters a culture of continuous improvement, enabling us to provide innovative and engaging educational experiences for our students. Through their expertise, dedication, and compassionate care, our staff plays a pivotal role in shaping the future leaders of tomorrow.

Each member brings a unique set of skills, knowledge, and experiences to our school, enriching the learning journey for our students. Whether it’s their expertise in subject areas, their mastery of pedagogical approaches, or their commitment to providing personalized attention, our staff members go above and beyond to ensure that every student thrives.

Through their tireless efforts, our staff creates dynamic lesson plans, implements innovative teaching methods, and fosters a love for learning that extends far beyond the classroom. They are not only educators but also mentors, guiding students through challenges and celebrating their achievements.

Our School Governors

Rear Admiral John Kingwell CBE

Chair of Governors. Chair of F&GPC Rear Admiral John Kingwell enjoyed a highly successful 36-year career as a naval officer – commanding 3 ships. As a Commodore he commanded the task Group off Libya in 2011 and went on to be the Head of Director of Navy Plans and Resources advising the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the Royal Navy’s financial performance and outputs. As an Admiral he led the MoD’s independent strategic think tank and the Government Strategic Trends Programme providing long term global strategic context for across Government policy makers. His final role was as Deputy and then Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies which prepares senior leaders from Defence, Civil Service and business from 56 nations for strategic leadership positions. John retired from the Royal Navy in January 2021. HIs 2 daughters attended Battle Abbey and he became a Governor 2017 with a focus on finance, strategy and risk, was formally the Chair of the F&GPC and became Chair of Governors in April 2022.


Professor David Daniels CBE

Vice Chair of Governors and Chair of Educational Committee. David joined the Full Court in November 2018.  After a career in applied research in industry, David joined the University of Manchester in 2015 as a Visiting Professor supporting research on radar and microwave sensing and was also a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor. David’s research interests are in sensors for security and counter-terrorism and he achieved notable success in support of search operations and the development of radar for landmine detection. David chaired the European Radar Conference in 2016.  He is married with two sons and two grandsons, gained his private pilot’s licence in 2012 and flies regularly from Lydd .


Mr Philip Padgham

Philip Padgham originates from East Sussex and was educated at Claverham Community College, Battle. He continued his education studying Business & Finance before pursuing a trainee accountancy role within industry before transitioning into Banking and Commercial Finance in the late 1980’s. He has held senior positions in both large banking entities and smaller independent financiers prior to co-founding his existing business interest with three other accomplished individuals. He has since held office as Managing Director and overseen the successful growth of the business.

On a personal basis, Philip is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers (5th oldest Co in City of London) and a Freemen of the City of London. Philip is a member of the Finance & Management, Charity & Education, and Catering Committees of the Company together with sitting on the Court. There has also been recent responsibility for recruiting a replacement Company Clerk (CEO) and jointly spearheading development of a post Covid strategic plan to ensure a viable and sustainable future for the Company and Hall.

Additionally, Philip continues to serve with the Royal Naval Reserve (31 years) as a Training Officer with the majority of years attached to Sussex Universities Royal Naval Unit (URNU) in capacity of Senior Training Officer prior to transferring to London URNU in the Summer of 2021. The core training being Leadership & Management focused with Officer Cadet undergraduates motivated to achieve a Level 4 qualification awarded by the Chartered Management Institute.

Hobbies include skiing, sailing, running, and rugby (supporting).


Mrs. Tara de Linde

Tara de Linde joined the Full Court of Governors in June 2022. A RIBA chartered Architect with over 20 years experience, she advises on Finance and Property development. She trained at the University of Edinburgh, the Villemin School of Architecture in Paris, the University of Bath and the Bartlett, University College of London. Prior to starting her career in Architecture, she worked for a year at Battle McCarthy Engineers modelling daylight and air flow in buildings. In 2012 she set up De Linde Architects Ltd. She is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and the University of Kent, an examiner for post-graduate studies at the Bartlett, University College of London and RIBA and is a British Homes Award Judge. She has three children and shares with them a passion for rock climbing.


Mr. Tom Couchman

Tom Couchman grew up in Sedlescombe, attending the local village primary school and then Claverham Community College in Battle. In 2015, Tom won an Academic Scholarship to join the Sixth Form at Battle Abbey School where he took A levels in Economics, Mathematics and History. He then went on to read History at University College London (UCL) where he graduated with First Class Honours. During each of his summers at university, Tom gained work experience in the London Insurance Market and began studying for his professional exams in parallel with his degree. After finishing university, he joined Guy Carpenter, the reinsurance arm of Marsh McLennan, via their graduate entry programme and he is now working as a Reinsurance Broker in the City of London.

Mrs. Libby Fidock

Libby Fidock joined the Full Court of Governors in January 2018. She was educated at Battle Abbey School (1989 – 94) and has been teaching since 1998. She is currently the Principal of Langley Park Primary Academy in Maidstone and has served as a governor in several schools. Libby lists walking and gardening amongst her hobbies and interests and has been a member of English Heritage for many years. Libby is the Oversight Governor responsible for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities as well as Safeguarding and a member of the Education Committee.

Mr. James Hookway

James joined the Full Court of Governors in April 2022. Educated in Eastbourne, James is a retired Police Officer, serving with Sussex Police since 1993. James worked as a Detective in Child Protection and safeguarding for 16 years, finishing his career working alongside East Sussex Children Services in the Multi agency  safeguarding hub. His hobbies include running, golf, acting and charity work. This is James’ first Governor’s role, and he is delighted to be a part of the team where he shares Oversight for Safeguarding with Libby Fidock.

Squadron Leader Paul Joyce MA RAuxAF

Paul Joyce was born in Glasgow, educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in the Royal Highland Fusiliers and latterly the Royal Regiment of Scotland for 22 years.  This service included operational deployments to Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan in infantry command roles.  Other General Staff roles included instructing recruits and Officer Cadets in Edinburgh and Sandhurst, project management in training & simulation systems, Defence Intelligence and cyber operations.  Paul completed an in-service War Studies Masters at King’s College London.

Since retiring from the Army, Paul has developed a second career as a systems engineer and programme manager, focussing on information security, cyber and complex systems in defence, intelligence and policing and continues to serve as a Cyber Reservist specialising in the operational integration of cyber systems into military capability.

A Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, a microlight and drone pilot whenever the opportunity arises, Paul has two daughters who have come through Battle Abbey School from the Prep to Sixth Form.

Mr. Ian Mercer CBE

Ian was educated at St Bartholomew’s Grammar School, Newbury and at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He retired in March 2013 after 50 years of Government Service consisting of 37 years in the Army as an Engineering and Intelligence specialist followed by 13 years with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was awarded the CBE in 1991. Both of Ian’s daughters were pupils at Battle Abbey. Ian’s wife Vera was a Founding Member of The Friends of Battle Abbey School. Ian has been a Governor since 1993 and was Chairman for 11 years until April 2014. He is a member of The Finance and General Purposes Committee and the Oversight Governor for Health and Safety.


Mrs. Rebecca Upton

Rebecca’s daughter, Phoebe, was at the Abbey from Year 7 to Year 13 (now at Cardiff University) during which time Rebecca involved herself fully in school life. She was an active member of FOBAS (Friends of Battle Abbey School) while her daughter was at the school and fulfilled roles including Vice Chair and Chair. Rebecca is very familiar with school life, lives locally and still maintains many contacts within the parent body and the wider Battle community. Outside Battle Abbey School Rebecca has run client relationships and specialised emerging markets equities divisions for various international investment banks worldwide.


Mr. Jonathan Watts MA (Oxon)

Jonathan Watts read Modern History at The Queen’s College Oxford and undertook research work in Art History at the University of York. He taught history at leading UK independent schools for nearly 40 years, beginning his career at Manchester Grammar School in the 1970s. He subsequently ran the History Departments at Ashville College Harrogate and Birkenhead School. In 1988 he was appointed Head of History and Politics at Benenden School, where he became the school’s first male housemaster and was the Oxbridge Coordinator and Scholars’ Mentor. He was closely involved in the recruitment of students from Hong Kong and China and continues to serve as a member of the Benenden Hong Kong Trust. For ten years, he was a GCSE and A-Level examiner. Since retirement from Benenden in 2012, he has worked with the New College of the Humanities in London, and has been a consultant and tutor with ARCH Education in Hong Kong and other consultancies. He has been a governor at four different independent schools and enjoys singing with small choirs specialising in early music and travelling in Europe and beyond. Jonathan is the Oversight Governor responsible for Boarding.


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