Westminster House

Westminster House is one of Sutton Valence’s senior boys’ boarding houses.

The fifty or so residents of Westminster form a major part of the school’s thriving boarding community. There is a real sense of house spirit in Westminster and the boys pride themselves on working hard and playing hard. The House provides a safe and positive environment in which the boys can flourish and benefit from the boarding experience.

The house leadership team is made up of a Head of House, his deputy and all the Sixth Formers. These young men, lead by example, and under the careful guidance of the Housemaster and staff, see to the day to day routines that are so important to the functioning of a large house. We look to develop the leadership potential of all our boarders, and through both formal and informal processes, we foster confidence, compassion and a strong commitment to serve each other, the School and the wider and global communities. 

Westminster is blessed with a first class experienced House staff, all of them placing great store on the importance of a sense of humour and a realistic outlook to life. The tutors’ role is both pastoral and academic one and the boys will meet with their respective tutor each morning as well as during the evenings when they are on duty in the house.

Michael James first joined Sutton Valence in September 2014 as Head of Economics and Business. After two years as a tutor to Westminster and over 20 years involvement in boarding in Australia, he was appointed Housemaster of Westminster in September 2016. Both Michael and his wife Theresa, have a deep commitment to boarding and together they have over 35 years’ experience leading boarding houses for boys and girls of all ages. Michael and Theresa live in a residence attached to Westminster.

Mr Westlake The longest serving tutor in the boarding house, Mr Westlake teaches Mathematics and is heavily involved in the school’s CCF.  He is never happier than when he is taking the cadets on live fire marksmanship training at the Hythe ranges or in target rifle competitions up at Bisley.  He lives in one of the residential flats connected to Westminster, along with his wife, who is second in the English department at Sutton Valence and their three young children Evie, William and James.

Miss McConnachie Miss McConnachie has been a part of the Westminster team for five years.  She teaches PE and Sports Science and is Head of Netball. One of her main loves is swimming and you will also find her as one of those mad competitors in open water competitions.  Miss McConnachie enjoys being a part of the boarding community, especially the competitive spirit between the Houses!

Mr Clapp is a recent addition to the Sutton Valence community. After 3 years in the world of business, he has seen the light and is excited about joining the Geography department and becoming a resident tutor in Westminster. Mr Clapp brings experience and energy to the role having lived and been involved in boarding houses for most of his life as a result of his father being a house master for many years. Mr Clapp graduated in Geography from Exeter University in 2013. He is also a very keen sportsman and carries his passion for sport into his teaching career by being involved coaching rugby, hockey and cricket at Sutton Valence. Mr Clapp lives in a residence attached to Westminster. 

Mr Waterworth the newest member of staff, was born on the Isle of Man and lived there permanently until the age of 13 before wanting to experience the main land (UK). His boarding school experience begun at the age of 13, attending Sedbergh School up until the age of 18. Mr Waterworth then went on to study Geography at Loughborough University for 4 years and played semi-professional rugby at the same time for Loughborough. He wanted to be able to incorporate his passions in his work and teaching allowed him to do this. After two memorable years at Mount Kelly, he is very excited to be joining Sutton Valence and being a part of Westminster House and the Geography Department.

Mrs Debbie Aitken, our Matron, joined Westminster in 2012, after nine years at St Johns School, where she had extensive training in many aspects of special needs. Debbie lives locally in Leeds village with Glenn, her husband of 37 years and son Max, who has recently returned from 6 months playing cricket in Australia. Her daughter Alex is in the London team of display Stylist for NEXT and is called upon to work on many shows including London fashion Week. Debbie trained in Exhibition Design and Display, and later Floristry, she worked in the industry on many award dinners at top London venues. To accommodate family life, she has since worked in other fields involving children, including nine years at a local primary school mostly dealing with special needs.  Debbie has introduced the training of two essential skills to Westminster, namely; how to iron a shirt, and tie a bow tie!!

Westminster is blessed with our housekeepers who ensure that the House is always in good order. While we expect the boys to become independent, and to that end we develop organisation and self-care skills, our housekeepers are exceptional. They genuinely have the boys’ best interests at heart, but they should not be taken for granted.

The House is renowned for its social occasions, most notably our regular Saturday pizza evenings and house ‘kitchen cook-ups’ as well as summer Barbecues and Christmas parties. The extent of activities, sporting occasions and other events such as these is really up to the house leaders and they are encouraged to be creative as possible. The house will usually have a charity which it supports, this too is driven by the house members and we hope this encourages a more selfless view of the world and an appreciation of just how fortunate those of us in Westminster and at Sutton Valence really are.

Westminster is a welcoming house where we strive to create an environment in which the boarders are safe and happy. Then the focus is on assisting each boarder, to firstly reach their academic potential and then to enhance their leadership, community, and co-curricular journeys. Westminster has strong traditions of camaraderie, support and house spirit and these qualities, along with our fantastic staff will hopefully make each boy’s Westminster and Sutton Valence experience a memorable and productive one.

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