A HEADTEACHER found dead on school grounds five months into her post seemed enthusiastic about her future.
Before Christmas, Emma Pattison excitedly told pupils how much she had loved her first few weeks at the helm of Epsom College, Surrey, and that “there is so much to come”.
8Emma Pattison, her husband George and daughter Lettie were found dead on Sunday morningCredit: PA8An aerial view of the rifle range (left) at Epsom College and the Pattison family home (right)Credit: LNP8Police outside the prestigious school in SurreyCredit: PAThe 45-year-old said on the school’s podcast that she couldn’t wait to experience her first Founder’s Day, where students, parents, staff and alumni enjoy picnics and games.
She also described the annual pancake race, prize-giving ceremony and regular fine-dining soirees as events to look forward to – and revealed she hoped to bring the school’s houses and year groups together more often.
But only two months later, the “wonderful” headmistress was found dead on-site along with her accountant husband George, 39, and seven-year-old daughter Lettie.
Police said they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the “isolated” incident at the £42,000-a-year school, but an investigation is underway to establish the circumstances.
Officers remain on the scene, where gunshots were heard hours earlier and the nearby rifle range forms part of the corden, The Telegraph reports.
The discovery in the early hours of Sunday morning has left the community shaken and heartbroken.
The college is open as normal, but tearful pupils were this morning marshalled through the police-guarded gates and to class.
They were to attend chapel services throughout the day and be offered counselling, a spokesperson said.
A staff member told The Sun before the morning bell: “Today will be difficult for everyone.”
Emma, who was raised on a farm in Lincolnshire, was appointed the first female head at Epsom College in September 2022 after six years at Croydon High School in South London.
She said at the beginning of December: “I am absolutely loving my time here so far.
“It has been very, very busy, but absolutely wonderful.”
Emma said that after speaking to other staff, pupils and parents at the school, she was delighted by what was to come.
“There is so much to look ahead to and be excited about,” she added.
“I’m not sure [I can pick one thing]. There is so much to come.”
The only suggestion of any difficulty was that the move had put pressure on her family and she found it tricky to find time for herself.
‘REALLY BIG CHANGE’
Emma told three sixth form students: “In terms of transition, it’s been a really big change for my family.
“So we’ve obviously moved house, we’ve got a dog, I’ve got a new job, my husband’s got a new job, which wasn’t meant to happen but did, and my daughter has started at a new school.
“So there’s been a lot of change for us as a family, but it’s been wonderful.”
When asked what she liked to do in her free time, the mum scoffed: “Free time?!”, to giggles in the background.
She hinted that between having breakfasts and lunches with students, attending sports matches on Saturdays and making meeting as many mums and dads as she could “a priority”, there was little time to pursue hobbies.
She did, however, go on to say that she enjoyed travelling, reading, playing the piano and singing – as well as going for jogs.
“The kinds of things I like doing now that I am a little older are about things that I enjoy and help me relax rather than the pursuit of excellence anymore,” Emma, whose mum was also a teacher, added.
A former neighbour told The Times they often heard piano music coming from the house and saw her going out for regular runs.
Emma, who ditched a post-university graduate scheme at Thomas Cook for teaching, detailed her career in education, which began in 2002 at Lutterworth College, South Leicestershire, where she taught French and Spanish.
She went on to have stints at Caterham School and Guildford High School, both in Surrey, before moving to St John’s School, also in the county.
Three years later, she became head at Croydon High School where she “learnt so much”, then she relocated to Epsom last year to “use that knowledge and skill and apply it to something different”.
“I’m someone that likes to feel I’m moving forwards,” she said on the Epsom Insights podcast.
“I like planning, I like strategy, and I suppose the scope of the college here is a little bigger than where I was before and I found that an exciting prospect.”
Speaking after her appointment was made public in January 2022, Emma said: “It is a school I have long admired, with an enviable reputation, and George and I can’t wait to meet the pupils, parents and staff and to become part of this wonderful community.
“It is our intention to make our home and our school equally as welcoming in the months and years to come.”
One of her ambitions for the school was to bring together older and younger students across different houses.
Colleagues and friends described Emma as a “wonderful teacher” and “delightful person” who “enriched children’s lives”.
Dr Alastair Wells, chairman of the board of governors at Epsom College, said: “On behalf of everyone here, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career.
“Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person.
“In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family.
“But for now, we ask that we are all given the time, space and respect we need to come to terms with this tragic loss.”
Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), said: “Emma was a much loved and respected member of the GDST community, as well as a talented Head and teacher, and a dear friend to many of us.
“She touched the lives of all of us with her energy, wisdom and kindness during her six years as Head of Croydon High School and the school will always bear the legacy of her inspiring leadership.”
And Julie Keller, head at Nottingham Girls’ High School said her life was “richer for having Emma as a friend and colleague”.
“The world is certainly poorer for her loss,” she added.
Epsom College won the top prize at the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2022, with judges calling it a “beacon of excellence”.
The school was also named the winner of the Student Wellbeing Award at the October ceremony thanks to its “whole-school approach to mental health and the wellbeing of both its staff and pupils”.
More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853, and its acting head has been listed as Paul Williams.
Its alumni include Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.
8A flag flies at half mast at Epsom College on February 7Credit: Getty8Emma, 45, was described as a ‘wonderful teacher’Credit: PA8Cops said they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the ‘isolated’ incidentCredit: Getty8A cordon is in place on the school groundsCredit: LNP8The school community is shaken by the loss of the headteacherCredit: PA
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk