Meet the Senior Leadership Team at Shrewsbury High School, an independent school for girls aged 4-18.

Mr Darren Payne,  Head 

It is a great privilege to be the thirteenth Head of Shrewsbury High School.  I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead Shrewsbury High in the next stage of its history. The school is in excellent health, with an outstanding recent inspection report, successes in all areas of school life and a strong and supportive community. I joined the teaching staff of Shrewsbury High School as Head of Chemistry in September 2007.  During my tour around the school, as part of my interview, you could sense that the High School was a wonderful place simply by listening to the two sixth form pupils who were acting as my guides. They were proud of their school and spoke very highly of the Shrewsbury High School community, and that sense of community remains strong to this day. I had not always imagined becoming a teacher, but my ‘lightbulb’ moment came when I was completing a module in education in my 3rd year at the University of Exeter as part of my Chemistry degree. This was my first introduction to working in a classroom and from that moment I knew teaching was for me. After completing a teacher training qualification at the University of Nottingham, my first teaching post was at Millfield School where I taught Chemistry and was also involved in coaching football and became a Houseparent. I then moved to the island of Bermuda to become Head of Science and then returned to the UK to teach in Derbyshire.

The last 17 years have, without doubt, have been the most enjoyable and rewarding of my career so far. Being able to teach a subject you love to pupils who show a real desire to learn and succeed is, I would argue, one of the most enjoyable and rewarding jobs you can have. During my time at Shrewsbury High School, I have introduced the highly successful Period X programme into our curriculum and overseen improvements to all aspects of teaching, learning and examination results.

We are fortunate to have a dynamic and ambitious staff body, talented students of great character and a beautiful school site that sits at the heart of the town of Shrewsbury.

Mrs Kate Millichamp, Head of Juniors

I joined Shrewsbury High School and the GDST family in 2015 and have never looked back!  Not only is Shropshire a wonderful county to live in, Shrewsbury High School is a truly wonderful community to be a part of and I consider myself privileged to be leading the Junior School. I grew up in South Staffordshire and have always maintained a love of fine art and maths, unsure of which pathway to take, I commenced my degree studies in Primary Education at the University of Wales, Swansea, specialising in Maths, Art and Geography and soon realised I had the best of both worlds and could really make a difference.

My teaching career began at Brewood Middle School and it wasn’t long before I discovered a real passion for creativity and curiosity in the classroom; providing stimulating opportunities for children to explore and master their own learning has always been at the heart of my life in the classroom. I then moved to Wolverhampton Grammar School to lead their ‘Big Six’ intake before being part of the team that established a new Junior School where I held the role of Assistant Head (Pastoral, Operations, Academic). I would never choose to be in anything but an all-through school; seeing students grow and flourish as they journey through their education is hugely rewarding and to contribute to that journey is the highlight of my role. I feel privileged to have project managed the move of our junior girls into their new school nestled at the heart of the Town Walls sites; this involved updating the creative curriculum and tying in the progression from juniors to seniors in all subject areas, as well as the re-development of Number 27 and 28 to create bespoke learning spaces and an open and engaging school space for all our girls. I am so proud to head such an invigorating, learning environment of incredible junior girls at Shrewsbury High School, where adventure and excitement drive our learning.

Away from school, I love cooking, especially for friends and family, and I spend a lot of my spare time outdoors where you will find me mainly in my garden, vegetable patch or potting shed, or I will be walking my two crazy dogs through the beautiful Shropshire countryside with my husband and son.

Ms Julie Mackie, Deputy Head Pastoral

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher and, after graduating from Durham University with a French and German degree, I completed my PGCE in Manchester before taking up my first teaching role in Buchan School on the Isle of Man. Six years later I headed to Singapore and my international teaching journey began. I worked overseas for 26 years in a range of British International schools, as Head of Modern Languages in Thailand and Saudi Arabia, before moving into Senior Leadership in Indonesia, Bahrain, Singapore and twice in China. I loved the rich cultural experiences that life overseas brought, and my two now grown-up children always attended the schools I taught in. After a three-year stint at The Abbey in Reading while my son was at university in Exeter, I moved back to China as Deputy Head Pastoral at Dulwich College Suzhou. However, living under severe restrictions for two and a half years due to the pandemic meant that I could not travel to see family and so a return to the UK beckoned. I am absolutely delighted to be working at SHS and getting to know Shrewsbury and the local area, particularly though dog walks with my two Westies Charlie and Bonnie.

As Deputy Head Pastoral, I work with staff to support the wellbeing of our girls. I am a strong advocate of mental health awareness and the importance of equipping young people with the tools they need to be happy, successful, balanced and fulfilled. I look forward to working with the pastoral team to make sure that our girls feel cared for, safe, included and valued and that their experience at SHS is a positive and rewarding one.

Mrs Geraldine Irvine, Assistant Head

I joined Shrewsbury High School in 2016 as Head of Spanish, and during my tour at interview I was captivated by the beauty of the school, and its superb location in the heart of the town next to the river. I immediately noticed the friendliness of the staff and students, and I knew this was a place I would be delighted to work.  The school has given me so many opportunities in the seven years I have been here.  Two years after joining the school I became Head of the Languages’ Faculty, and then in 2022 I was appointed Teaching and Learning Lead.  I am now thrilled to be Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for the academic life of the school.

My love of languages started during holidays to Europe as a child, as I was always fascinated hearing people communicating in other languages, that I couldn’t, but wanted to understand.  At school I studied French, German and Italian to advanced level.  In my final year, I started to learn Spanish with a Columbian teacher who was working at my school, and Spanish quickly surpassed Italian to become my favourite language.  After graduating with a degree in Spanish and French and completing my teaching training, I taught for a year in further education.  I enjoyed this, as in addition to teaching conventional academic courses, I taught budding chefs French and the engineers of the future Spanish.  After this, I moved across the border to Liverpool, where I was Head of Spanish in a grammar school for sixteen years.  I then moved to a school closer to my home in North Wales as Head of Languages and remained there for two years.  Although I have taught in four distinctly different institutions, I love being part of the Shrewsbury High Family.  It is a great privilege to be part of the educational journey of so many delightful young ladies in this beautiful and historic school.

Mrs Fiona Fox, Director of Finance and Operations

I joined Shrewsbury High School in October 2015 as Director of Finance and Operations having held a number of senior positions in the education sector over the last 25 years most recently Vice Principal Finance and Resources at Stockport College. I have led numerous new build and refurbishment projects over my career including the dining room at the senior school enjoying the challenge of project management and delivering a vision into reality. I graduated with BA Hons in Economics and have a post graduate qualification in Strategic Management. I was a school governor for 3 years at my daughters’ primary school and also a Governor at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport helping to establish youth governors. As a life-long Derby County supporter, I can often be found at Pride Park and occasionally at Wembley supporting my team. I am also an avid traveller with a love of exploring new countries and love attending live music and arts events.

I am responsible for the management of the school finances and budgets and work closely alongside our Finance Manager and Finance Assistant to keep a close eye on the financial running of the school. I am also responsible for our fleet of school minibuses and all Estate work, from development and maintenance of our beautiful school buildings and grounds to hiring out school facilities to the wider community.

Mrs Joanna Jepson, Director of Marketing, Admissions and Communications

Shrewsbury High School holds a very special place in my heart. I am a former SHS pupil, a current SHS parent and a staff member.  After university, I pursued my love of languages working at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva for 8 years and then co-founded our sports PR business, Max Bikes PR on my return to the UK.  Since moving back to beautiful Shropshire, I have had the wonderful job of celebrating this school and its brilliant staff and pupils.

As the Director of Marketing, Admissions and Communications I am responsible for developing and implementing a marketing and communications strategy for the whole school and showcasing the excellence of the school’s academic, pastoral and co-curricular provision.  It has been incredibly exciting developing a new vision for Shrewsbury High School, alongside SLT colleagues, as we returned to an all-through all-girl model. Having the junior girls move into their new school on Town Walls has given Town Walls a fresh energy and seeing the junior and senior girls working and playing alongside each other is wonderful.

I also oversee whole school Admissions and Outreach work as well as working with our brilliant former pupils as part of our Alumnae and Philanthropy work.