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Surrey schools - Henry Knight, headmaster of Woodcote House in Windlesham

PUBLISHED: 13:41 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:21 20 February 2013

Henry Knight of Woodcote House School in Windlesham

Henry Knight of Woodcote House School in Windlesham

A family affair, Woodcote House School in Windlesham has been in the Patterson family since 1931. This year, after 20 years as headmaster, Nick Patterson is stepping down and the man taking over is Henry Knight. MATTHEW WILLIAMS catches up with hi...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazineNovember 2009

A family affair, Woodcote House School in Windlesham has been in the Patterson family since 1931. This year, after 20 years as headmaster, Nick Patterson is stepping down and the man taking over is Henry Knight. MATTHEW WILLIAMS catches up with him for a chat as he tackles his first term in the new role




Woodcote House School, in Snows Ride, Windlesham, is a family-run boarding and day school for boys aged seven to 13. For more information, call 01276 472115






If you hadn't become a teacher, what do you think you'd have done instead?
Before becoming a teacher, I worked in the wine trade for seven years with Berry Bros and Rudd in London. If I had stayed in the trade, I would have loved to have become a master of wine, but ideally I wanted to buy my own vineyard and make my own wines.

Was there any type of school dinner you couldn't stand?
Dumplings. I could happily manage the stew that accompanied them, but I would be made to sit alone in the dining room for what seemed like hours until I'd finished the dumplings. Just the thought of them makes me gag! Never again.

What were your favourite lessons?
English and history. They were both taught at my prep school by Wing Commander Ted Horsfall, who had also played rugby for England. He had one cauliflower ear and wasn't averse to hurling bits of chalk around at the daydreamers, but he was a truly inspirational teacher and also a fascinating man.

So, your Desert Island Disc...?
It would have to be the Hallelujah Chorus, sung by the King's College Choir. I have it on my iPod and play it at full volume when the boys have grasped a particularly tricky bit of grammar. It is hugely uplifting and never fails to make me smile.

What would be your favourite film of all time?
Any Bond film. When I was at prep school, the headmaster had a collection of them on the old Philips video cassettes and many happy Sunday afternoons were spent watching Sean Connery or Roger Moore. If I had to pick one, it would have to be Live and Let Die - it's got a little bit of everything.

If you were to have a meal held in your honour and there was one space still available, who would you like to fill it?
It would have to be Chris Woodhead. As the ex-chief inspector of schools and a professor of education he, above all people, understands what is needed to haul this country out of the educational mess in which it finds itself.

Although he can be wickedly controversial at times, seldom have I met a more erudite, intelligent and interesting man. Those who control educational policy should listen to him, while they still have the opportunity.

How do you like to relax away from work?
As a new headmaster, in only my first term in the job, I have yet to be afforded that luxury!

If you were prime minister for one day, what's the first thing that you'd do?
I'd overturn the hunting ban. I don't hunt, but what a pointless waste of everybody's time for two reasons - it has been a waste of parliamentary time, which could have been used to debate far more important and wide-reaching issues, and pointless because the ban has proven itself to be totally unenforceable.

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