'I enjoy seeing children discover a love of learning as their world opens up to new discoveries': Meet the headmaster at The Richard Pate School

With specialist facilities and a gorgeous semi-rural campus on the outskirts of Cheltenham, The Richard Pate School has plenty to offer it students – not least a broad and varied education. SoGlos speaks to headmaster, Robert MacDonald, to find out more about the independent prep school.

By Zoe Gater  |  Published
SoGlos talks to the head of The Richard Pate School in Cheltenham about the breadth of opportunities available to its students.

Situated on a beautiful 11-acre campus in Leckhampton, The Richard Pate School celebrates its students' unique strengths and qualities, while working closely with their parents to help them choose the right onward destination post-prep school – with a large percentage of pupils going on to achieve places and scholarships at leading grammar and independent schools in Gloucestershire and beyond.

SoGlos talks with Richard Pate's headmaster, Robert MacDonald, about how the semi-rural school successfully provides a well-rounded education for boys and girls, ensuring that they can thrive within a happy and supportive environment.

About the expert - Robert MacDonald, headmaster at The Richard Pate School

Growing up and training as a teacher in Canada, Robert MacDonald has lived and worked in the UK for more than 20 years, joining the team at The Richard Pate School over 15 years ago and taking on the role of headmaster – which he loves!

He feels an immense sense of pride towards his Richard Pate students, who he feels so privileged to educate, and enjoys hearing about their adventures outside of school, too.

What makes you passionate about working with children?

For my entire career I have worked in the primary and prep school world. I enjoy seeing children discover a love of learning as their world opens up to new discoveries. 

Why did you choose to work at The Richard Pate School?

I was always impressed by the sort of child who came out of a Richard Pate education. They had a genuine passion for learning as well as a confidence to interact with their peers and adults alike. Each child was their own individual self but with a common understanding of the importance of manners, mutual respect and kindness.

You’ve worked at the school for the last 16 years. What has changed in this time?

Thanks to my exceptionally talented colleagues and a very supportive parental community, I believe we continue to see confident, independent young people leave Richard Pate ready to embrace the challenges that await them. The school they leave now has vastly improved facilities and a greater breadth of opportunities for the children to enjoy over the one I joined in 2006.

They are also benefiting from technology we could only have dreamed about 15 years ago.

What separates the school from others across Gloucestershire?

One of the reasons people move to Cheltenham is for the marvellous education – and we are spoiled for choice in the local area. I do believe at Richard Pate we always celebrate the individual and across their eight years of education at Richard Pate, they all have their chance to find a passion for academics, art, sport, music, languages and drama as well as a broad range of extra-curricular pursuits.

Being a truly independent school, we are able to advise parents on the plethora of possibilities that lie beyond and in my time as head, we have seen children move on to 42 different institutions including independent, grammar and comprehensive schools.

Do you have any advice for parents choosing a school for their child?

I tell every parent that comes to visit that they should visit as many schools as possible, as selecting your child's school is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. I also believe the parental instinct takes over and parents will get a sense of whether it feels right for them or not.

Buildings and facilities are important but ultimately it is the relationships of the people inside those buildings. Can you sense an ethos of inclusion and mutual respect? Do the staff and pupils seem happy to be there? If it's genuine, you will sense it by the end of a tour.

What’s your main focus for The Richard Pate School in 2023?

We are at the start of a new strategic plan in 2023 which will see exciting initiatives for curriculum, computing, extra-curricular provision and more. It is an exciting time to join the Richard Pate family.

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