England's Headmaster of the Year 2012

Headmaster Of The Year

12/09/12

Richard Cairns, Head Master of Brighton College, has been awarded the title of England's Headmaster of the Year by Tatler magazine.

At this week's prestigious Tatler Schools Awards, held at the Dorchester Hotel in London, Richard Cairns was awarded the title of England's Headmaster of the Year - one of the most highly-prized accolades in independent education - and all the more pleasing as it follows so swiftly on Brighton College being awarded the title England's School of the Year in November of last year by The Sunday Times.

In their summary of Richard Cairns' many achievements, Tatler highlighted in particular the outstanding improvement in academic results that Brighton has seen over his tenure. The only school in England to have seen academic improvement every single year for six years, the college has risen from 136th to 16th in UK rankings and to be the leading co-educational school in the country. The last six years have also been the best in the 167-year history of the school in terms of Oxbridge and Russell Group university entrants.

Most importantly of all, however, Tatler pointed to the warm, friendly and tolerant environment that he has striven to establish: "Time and time again, we're told what a kind, tolerant, open-minded, modern school this is."

The Schools Awards marked the formal launch of the magazine's influential annual guide to the top prep and public schools in the UK, Tatler Schools Guide 2013. Here is what the guide has to say about Brighton College:

'Everyone's talking about Brighton College these days - have you noticed?
Increasingly seen as the smart co-ed option, it's smack in the centre of oh-so-splendid Brighton, a few blocks from the sea and 50 minutes from London by train, and has the best A-level and GCSE results of any co-ed school in the country. We asked a member of staff to define the college's USP. 'Head Richard Cairns,' came the instant reply. 'He's streets ahead in terms of vision.' Another staff member refers to the 'Cairns revolution - out with fustiness, in with fresh new ideas'.

He abolished Saturday school, reduced the number of lessons (but upped the quality of teaching) and cut back on the number of GCSEs pupils take - and hey presto, results improved beyond recognition (95% A*-B at A-level last year and more Oxbridge places than at any time in the school's history). Cairns leads a young, dynamic staff and knows how to keep them happy - he bussed them all to London for a black-tie dinner to celebrate winning last year's Sunday Times Independent School of the Year award. Boarder numbers are rocketing, with huge demand for the weekly option from London and Surrey families (we're told Mr Godfrey's School House is the coolest place to stay).

The co-ed thing works brilliantly here: no one bats an eyelid if boys opt for riding or dance classes, and girls play in the boys' First XI cricket team. But alpha males flourish, too, and the First XV is tremendously successful. Time and again, we're told what a kind, tolerant, open-minded, modern school this is - not just snapping at the heels of the major-league players, but about to overtake them completely.'

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