Meet The Team
The School of English and Culture is headed by a team of outstanding teachers who between them have a wealth of experience in language schools and other teaching environments, along with a passion for delivering innovative and exciting learning experiences for young people. It is a unique strength of the School that this team of teachers will also provide the pastoral care in the boarding houses – they believe strongly in the idea of a holistic education in which teachers and students work together inside the classroom and live together outside it in a dynamic, exciting environment designed to maximise the learning experience and help the students to reach their potential.
Sam Ponsford, Director of the School of English and Culture
Sam has taught English as a foreign language for many years both in the UK and in his current home of Galicia, North West Spain. Having grown up in Marlborough and attended the College he went on to work with young people in a diverse range of educational contexts. These have included residential schools, care homes and in the outdoors, where his love for adventurous activities has allowed him to help students to grow in confidence. He takes great pleasure in bringing together his many passions and interests to create memorable and enriching educational experiences that are of use far beyond the classroom. He brings this approach to his role as Director of The School of English and Culture to create a course that is dynamic, engaging and inspiring for the students and that they will remember long after the course has finished.
Tom Burgess, Head of Activities
Tom has a wide range of experience working with young people in different learning environments; from teaching English as a foreign language in Thailand, to working as a Housemaster in a boarding school. Tom’s expertise is using the outdoors to engage people in meaningful and memorable experiences. A background in play and youth work means Tom has an arsenal of fun activities that can be employed to inspire personal development and promote positive relationships.
Grace Swordy - Head of Open Minds
Grace is a facilitator, educator and theatre practitioner who has worked with young people and diverse community groups on a range of projects and performances. Excited by questioning human experience and political issues though art and group response, she loves running workshops and creating original work with groups on the issues that are important to them. Over the last two years, Grace has been working in Bristol on a national disability and community heritage project, as well as running a youth theatre. Alongside this she has run workshops and events for 5x5x5=creativity, Bristol City Council and festivals, engaging with the outdoors, art and learning. Previously, Grace was the education officer for MED Theatre in Devon. She has worked as a facilitator and company manager for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain for over four years and assistant directed with The Common Players. She has put on shows in England and Barcelona with her two theatre companies, The House Party Collective and Dustyapple Theatre Company. She worked teaching English for two years in Spain and developed innovative drama and art techniques for young people's education projects. Grace is incredibly excited to be guiding the Open Minds course as it develops and to be working with such an inspiring team of tutors.
Nicola Mitchell - Head of Learn English
Nicola has worked as an English teacher and manager for over 12 years in the UK and Spain and is enthusiastic about educating and caring for young people. Having studied her degree in modern languages, Nicola has a profound understanding of language acquisition and grammar and applies this knowledge to her pedagogic approach.
Nicola has trained and professionally developed teachers for over a decade and has given workshops and presentations on a wide range of topics related to English language teaching. She is also unceasingly curious and as a result, is always interested in experimenting with innovative methodologies and cutting-edge, educational technology. This, however, is achieved whilst always sticking to her core educational principles of the development of a love of learning, a focus on authentic communication and the creation of a safe space where the students feel comfortable expressing themselves freely.
As a mother of two young girls, Nicola understands the importance of a nurturing environment and strives to create a homely atmosphere for the students at camp. She is creative and has a passion for the arts, which she believes is a great medium for developing self-confidence and harvesting imaginative and independent ideas.
Nicola is excited to be able to combine her maternal instinct with her passion for education and language in her role at the School of English and Culture.
Susie Ponsford - Learn English
Susie began her teaching career in Colombia, teaching English as a foreign language to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This instilled in her a passion for language and the experience of other cultures. She has continued to pursue these interests in her current role as an English teacher in Galicia, Northern Spain, where she teaches a range of ages and abilities. Susie has a keen interest in literature and creative writing which she believes can be a valuable addition to the EFL classroom and has used to great effect in previous summer schools at the Liverpool School of English and Liverpool International Language Academy.
Lowri Ponsford - Learn English
Lowri is a passionate advocate of adventure and the outdoors and believes this excitement should be an integral part of everyday life, including the EFL classroom. Lowri takes a multi-disciplinary approach to her teaching; she is currently leading a course in 'English through Theatre' for children and has previously directed films, choreographed dances and run projects and workshops on Native American culture to encourage her students to become fully engaged in the process of learning English. Lowri is currently studying for a PhD in social and cultural geographies and loves the opportunity to bring her passion for learning into the classroom.
When not in the classroom, Lowri can usually be found in the sea catching waves or documenting her life through her ever-expanding collection of photographs.
Mel Burgess - Learn English
Mel loves adventuring in the outdoors, and has enjoyed doing this in many countries all over the world. Her educational experience includes teaching English in a rural village in Nepal to work as a Primary Teacher in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Guildford. In her spare time she loves to cook, play the piano, and go on long walks in the countryside. Mel is passionate about instilling a love of learning in children and is convinced this can be achieved through exciting learning opportunities that are rooted in real life experiences.
Sarah Whyte - Learn English
Sarah has had a passion for foreign languages since a young age. She began her English teaching adventure in Poland where she discovered an additional love for education. She went on to teach English in an International College in her home town of Youghal, Ireland where she worked for many years.
Sarah loves to bring her interests outside the classroom of singing, meeting new people, music and film and (believe it or not) grammar into the language classroom. She is currently teaching English in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.
Steve Howe - Learn English
Steve hails from the UK but lives and works in Barcelona, Spain. He has spent 6 years working with young learners in the UK, Spain and Italy and as a teacher and activities coordinator he has a wide range of skills to make sure students are able to make the most of their time inside and outside the classroom. He believes in engaging with individual student's personalities and interests and tailoring classes to bring English into their everyday lives. His own interests are drawing funny pictures and climbing big rocks and he enjoys any opportunity to bring those interests into the classroom too. In his work at SEC he particularly relishes the challenge of bringing the English language alive through dynamic discussion and debate and loves the opportunity to really help the students to reflect on their lives and the world around them whilst developing their language skills.
Harry Burgess - Open Minds
Harry studied English and Philosophy at Leeds University and in his studies focused particular attention on exploring ideas of morality and ethics, many of these ideas will form the core ideas of his Open Minds module.
Harry is a primary school teacher who specialises in music and helping young people to develop their philosophical thinking skills. He has also worked for a wide range of organisations outside of the school environment including for Guildford Borough Council where he worked with young people to encourage them to engage in creative play and for the Royal Bank of Scotland funded charity Diversity Role Models, where he worked in secondary schools, helping to raise awareness and understanding of issues surrounding gender and sexuality.
Harry is a fantastic musician. He sings, plays a variety of instruments and produces his own music. He is passionate about encouraging young people to explore music making and to develop their compositional talents. His band, Adult Jazz, has played all over the word including in New York, Reykjavik, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Paris. You can check out their music here.
Harry is excited to be able to share his enthusiasm for thinking about some of the big issues facing our society today with the Open Minds students and particularly enjoys helping them to think creatively about their place in the world.
Oliver Bancroft - Open Minds
Oliver is an artist, filmmaker and facilitator based in London. As an artist, Oliver has worked creatively in a wide variety of mediums – oil paint, celluloid film and digital in particular. His work has been exhibited worldwide including in Zimbabwe, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and across the UK.
Oliver’s work draws on a wide range of influences from early renaissance altar pieces and the fantastical landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch to cartoon drawings by the likes of Philip Guston and the paintings that cats make!
As a facilitator, Oliver has worked with a wide spectrum of people. He believes that the creative process can be a catalyst for people to improve their lives and this inspires him in his work developing people’s creativity.
Oliver brings his enormous depth of film-making experience and his infectious enthusiasm to the Open Minds course to create a truly remarkable experience.
You can click here for more information on Oliver's work.
You can click here for more information on Oliver's work.
Will Golding - Open Minds
Will is a community education worker, currently based in Scotland. He has worked for several years in a variety of educational contexts; in Scotland, the Basque Country and United Arab Emirates. These include; Adult Education (community based, literacy, ESOL and University lectures); Youth Work (summer schools, school-based, youth clubs, project-based and political/critical literacy); Science Communication, and Community Development work.
A key part of his practice is working alongside communities, to build on existing experiences and knowledge, and to use this to act on social issues. He's excited to be working with a dynamic team of practitioners at Marlborough that bring together a love, commitment and shared understanding of experiential education. He believes in education as a source of hope, curiosity, motivation, and the means to imagine new possibilities and act on these, engaging the 'Head, Heart and Hand', throughout.
'We risk ourselves in creation', and it is through the ever-renewed act of creation in collaborative educational pursuit that Will aims to work. Will is also the Chairperson for a charity that is creating a community-owned and run Centre for Outdoor-Based Learning, Eating and Exercise in Edinburgh.