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  • Writer's pictureCavendish Education

Introducing Jonathan Mansell - Headteacher of Abingdon House School, Purley

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Jonathan Mansell has been appointed as Headteacher for Abingdon House School, Purley.

The school, which will open in 2023 on Godstone Road, Purley, CR8, will eventually welcome students aged 7 to 19 years old and who are likely to have a range of learning differences.

Jonathan has over twenty years of experience within education; having taught and led in both mainstream and specialist schools.

He qualified as a Science teacher and has a Masters in Leadership and Change Management. Most recently, he was Deputy Headteacher at Moor House School & College, a school supporting students with language difficulties.

Jonathan is busily completing the tasks required to open Abingdon House School, Purley in 2023, and is excited to welcome the school’s first cohort of students and their families.

We met with Jonathan to quiz him about his vision for Abingdon House School, Purley.

Q: Tell us about your plans for the new school….

A: Wow. Where to start?

At the moment the building is taking shape and there are some really great features about the site that we are going to exploit. When I walk around the site I can picture the staff and students happily making use of what will be an amazing building.

We will have some wonderful teaching spaces, including dedicated science classrooms, a design technology space, a food tech classroom and a performing arts space, as well as plentiful outdoor space for education and recreation.

I’m aiming to create an environment which will unlock the potential of a group of students who may otherwise have struggled to flourish. I know that given the right support, at the right time, our students will be able to build on the opportunities we will give them in order to access GCSE and equivalent qualifications.

I want to create a school that gives students the chance to develop personally and to generalise skills outside of the classroom. Most of all I want learning to be fun and not something to fear.

I have very high expectations of what the young people who will attend Abingdon House School, Purley can achieve.

Q: How are you planning to use technology to improve learning?

A: In my previous roles I have led and been part of the implementation of innovative technology.

This has included the creation of simple monitoring and reporting tools, the development of Apps, the creation of an online learning platform and the development of technology to enhance lessons.

Ultimately I know that my staff and students are likely to have ideas around technology superior to my own! I see my role as creating an environment in which people feel empowered to give their ideas a go and to share any subsequent successes.

Q: What got you into teaching, and why were you drawn to specialist education?

A: I would love to say that as a child I wanted to be a teacher, but that isn’t true! I came into teaching accidentally.

I spent my early twenties working in the hospitality sector at home and abroad and when I felt it was time to come home, I wanted to put my degree to good use. Teaching seemed like a great option.

I trained in some very challenging schools and far from putting me off I found that I loved the challenge of imparting knowledge and a love for Science to students who, at the time, cared little for learning or found it very difficult. It helped, I think, that I was good at it.

Over the years I found myself supporting staff and helping them in their development too; this gradually led me towards school leadership. But ultimately, the motivation for getting out of bed every morning is helping the students in my care to learn and develop as a person.

In my opinion, in the wider education sector, there’s so much emphasis on league tables and grades, and one of the drawbacks of school league tables is that students can, to some degree, become numbers or statistics and the individual is perhaps sometimes forgotten.

What I love about specialist education is that the individual is front and centre of every decision that is made.

Q: In your experience, what makes for a ‘good day’ at school?

A: As a school leader, each day comes with different challenges and reasons to celebrate but I’m very aware that the students who may join Abingdon House School, Purley, may have had negative experiences of learning and of school in general. This saddens me greatly.

I am determined to create an environment in which students feel safe, happy, and can start to love learning again. A place where they can achieve, feel valued, make lifelong friends, and where staff and students look forward to being.

Q: Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents?

A: Hidden talents might be over-stating things!

I’m a keen sports person and would like to think that I can turn my hand to most sports. In the past I also used to do a lot of stand-up comedy and still attend, rather than perform at, as many stand up nights as I can manage.

If you'd like to get in touch with Jonathan, please email:



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