In March 2014, Hatherop Castle, a prep school and nursery set in idyllic Gloucestershire countryside, became the third school to join the Wishford Group. Housed in a hugely characterful building dating back to Tudor times and sitting in 22 acres of landscaped grounds, it was just one of a dozen schools Wishford’s Executive Chair Sam Antrobus and his advisory board had looked at in the previous six months.
What made a huge difference to the then-Head Paul Easterbrook was the Wishford team’s passion and belief in independent education. ‘Sam was the only person to bring along educational experts to view and evaluate Hatherop Castle from an academic and pastoral perspective. When Wishford said they wanted us to join the group, we actually felt very proud that it had recognised what a good school Hatherop Castle was and how great it could be, as well as being a viable business opportunity.’
Paul and his staff had been under a great deal of pressure. Having a vast estate to run with nagging concerns about the school’s financial position was distracting the senior management team from the most important job of all: Educating the children.
It is this above all that Paul Easterbrook values. ‘Now I can do what I do best. Knowing we have experts on hand to manage the estate, the finances and the marketing takes a huge weight off my shoulders. It has given me the time to focus on what really matters, and to look critically at the structure within the school. We have reorganised our senior management team and the way decisions are made and implemented by staff. It has allowed us to be pro-active instead of re-active.