Harrogate school unveils its first female head in exciting new appointment

An exceptional head – who has played a key role opening schools in China and America and held the top position at England’s leading girls’ boarding school – has been appointed as Ashville College’s new head in Harrogate.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 2:10 pm
Making history - Rhiannon Wilkinson will become Ashville College’s 11th and first female head, was the unanimous choice of the Board of Governors at the Harrogate school.

Her appointment comes following the sad death of the tenth headmaster, Richard Marshall, who died last November aged 48 of cancer.

Rhiannon Wilkinson who will become Ashville College’s 11th and first female head, was the unanimous choice of the Board of Governors.

Throughout the rigorous selection process, she demonstrated her understanding of the importance of providing young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to thrive in an ever-developing and challenging world.

Mrs Wilkinson is no stranger to Harrogate, having previously been headmistress at Harrogate Ladies’ College from 2009 until 2013.

She oversaw a vast improvement in academic success and an increase in pupil numbers.

She then became Head at Wycombe Abbey – the girls’ equivalent of Eton College – which has an excellent reputation for academic excellence and a top ranking in the Sunday Times’ Parent Power League Table.

During a varied career, Oxford graduate Mrs Wilkinson has taught in – and led – schools in the UK, Hong Kong and Brunei, and most recently was the founding Head of Whittle School Shenzhen which opened simultaneously alongside its sister school Whittle School Washington DC.

Jamie Search, Ashville College’s Chair of Governors, said: “Rhiannon Wilkinson’s previous experience exemplifies that she is an exceptional educational leader, one whose star qualities shone through during all the stages of the selection process.

“In her four years at Harrogate Ladies’ College, she did an exceptional job and is credited with transforming the fortunes of the school.

“We feel incredibly privileged to have someone of Rhiannon’s calibre and experience joining Ashville College, and I’m looking forward to working with her to create the next chapter in Ashville’s 144-year history.”

Rhiannon Wilkinson said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be joining Ashville College and returning to the Harrogate District which I always saw as my forever home.

“As a head over the last 12 years, I am confident that my versatility and commitment to serve young people and their families, whatever their background, need or ability, will enable me to succeed at Ashville College.

“Ashville is rich in heritage and remains true to its strong Methodist values, it is small enough to care but big enough to challenge both its day and boarding pupils.

“As gead I very much look forward to adopting and leading the school’s mantra of pupils becoming the ‘best version of themselves’ and to building on the successes of my predecessors, in particular the unfulfilled legacy of Richard Marshall, and getting to know the staff, pupils, parents, and wider Ashville family over the coming weeks, months and years.”

Mrs Wilkinson was educated at Fairfield High School for Girls, in Manchester.

She studied Modern History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, before undertaking a Post Graduate Certificate of Education at Bath University.

For more information about Ashville College, please visit www.ashville.co.uk or call 01423 566358.

Founded in 1877, Ashville College is a leading independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3-18 years.

It is located in the North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate, and consists of Acorns Nursery Class and Ashville’s Prep School, Senior School and Sixth Form.

Ashville College is a member of the HMC, BSA, ISC, and NEASC, and an associate member of the Methodist Independent Schools Trust.

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