Family Wellbeing & Mental Health

Mr. Heath Monk, in his own words, shortly before coming to The Netherlands in June:

I am currently the CEO of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, UK, a group of 11 secondary schools that includes independent, grammar and comprehensive schools and serves over 10,000 children.

I have always worked in education: as a teacher, as a senior civil servant in the Department for Education in the UK government and, before my current role, as the CEO of a national leadership charity. However, it’s certainly not “in my blood” — my parents were publicans and I was the first member of my family to go on to higher education.

I am married (to Lucy, who is/was also a headteacher) and I have three children: Pip (who has just finished reading History at Oxford University) and Alex and Joel (twins), who will be starting Year 10 in September at SSV.

What are you looking forward to in your new role at the BSN?

I’m really looking forward to working in an international environment with students (and staff) from such a wide range of backgrounds. That, in itself, brings huge opportunities for learning, especially when coupled with the core BSN values of head, hand and heart. There are so many global challenges that will need to be solved by the next generation — and so it’s a privilege to help those inspiring young people on their way.

What about life in The Netherlands?

I grew up in Hastings and, after four years in the very middle of the country, I am incredibly excited to be back by the sea. Scheveningen feels like coming home, but with far more sand and a much longer pier! I am also excited about getting to know Dutch culture: I love the sense of community that seems so pervasive in The Netherlands. My Dutch language learning has been confined to Duolingo so far — every time I have tried to speak Dutch in a shop or restaurant, I have been immediately answered in perfect English.

What has been your impression of the BSN so far?

My first impressions have been very positive. Everyone that I have met has been warmly welcoming and has spoken very highly of the school. Clearly, the last few months have been testing and the future is far more uncertain than it seemed at the start of the year, but staff have continued to do whatever they can to ensure continuity of education and care. That spirit will serve us well as we enter the next phase of the pandemic.

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy watching and playing sport. I’m a passable golfer (10 handicap) and also play cricket, tennis and football (if/when my knees allow). I suspect cycling will become a much greater part of my life away from Birmingham’s hills and terrifying dual carriageways. I like to cook: the lockdown has finally allowed me to hone my bread-making skills and I will be bringing a well-established sourdough starter across the channel. I also enjoy music, theatre and cinema.

Tell us something about yourself that we may not already know.

I was in a student band at university. I am 99 percent certain that Thom Yorke came to see us play, but I have never yet returned the favour and seen Radiohead live.