Headmaster Announcement

Senior School
8 Feb 21

Mrs Gillian Swaine, Chair of the Governors at Sutton Valence School, is delighted to announce that the Governing Body has appointed Mr James Thomas as the new Headmaster of the School, effective as of September 2021. Mr Thomas will succeed Bruce Grindlay, who departs at the end of this academic year after 12 years of outstanding leadership of the School. Mr Grindlay leaves SVS to take up the post of Principal of Rugby School Thailand.

The appointment follows an extensive search with a strong list of candidates applying for the post. Despite the current challenges impacting the interview process, the Governors were pleased to be able to complete the process in a timely fashion.  Mrs Swaine commented, ”We are delighted to have attracted such a high-quality candidate in James Thomas and we are looking forward to even more success in the future for the School and its students.”

Mr Thomas studied at St Paul’s School, London, and then went on to receive his undergraduate degree in Theology from Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. He holds an MA in Educational Leadership from the University of London and also the National Professional Qualification for Headship. In his early career he was a Head of Department (Theology and Philosophy) at both Dulwich College and Wellington College, where he was also in charge of Oxford and Cambridge applications. He then became the Director of Studies at Harrow International School Hong Kong before moving to the highly regarded British School in Tokyo in August 2014 where he is currently Head of the Senior School. Beyond work and spending time with his family, Mr Thomas’s personal interests include music, choirs, sport, travel and current affairs.

The South East, and Kent in particular, is very much ‘home’ for Mr Thomas. In that regard, as well as being a great professional opportunity, it is also a wonderful personal one for him as he, his wife Katherine and three young boys move back to the area, with his children due to attend Sutton Valence Preparatory School. Mr Thomas commented “I am absolutely thrilled and indeed honoured to have been appointed as the next Headmaster at Sutton Valence School. The School is in a wonderful position and I look forward to leading it in its next chapter. The opportunity to work with the students, staff, parents, governors, Old Suttonians and the many friends of the school community fills me with excitement.”

Community forms such an important part of life at Sutton Valence School and, in many ways, defines the legacy left by Mr Grindlay. His commitment and passion, not just to the School, but to the community that makes it so special, has characterised his 12 years at the helm. He leaves the School in a strong position, both academically and in terms of its outstanding co-curricular achievements, and the Governing Body is immensely grateful for all that he has achieved.

As the School heads towards its 450th anniversary in 2026, the Governing Body has every confidence that Mr Thomas’s appointment will allow Sutton Valence to continue to go from strength to strength, building on the successes of the recent past, as one of the leading independent schools in the South East and, truly, the heart of Kent education.

As an introduction, Mr Thomas has recorded the following message as a welcome for the SVS community.