William Brierly, headmaster of Claremont Fan Court School, is delighted to announce the appointment of Matthew Jelley as the new head of the junior school, with effect from September 2024. Matthew brings a wealth of experience combined with a passionate commitment to educational excellence to this new role. 


William Brierly said ‘I am delighted to be welcoming Matthew to Claremont. He has a fantastic breadth of experience and a clarity of understanding for what makes a through-school education such a seamless and exciting learning environment. He was the stand-out candidate in a rigorous recruitment process, involving 44 candidates, and his interactions with our expert pupil-panel during the process particularly highlighted his pupil-centred approach; I know he is going to love getting to know our wonderful school community.’  


Following a legacy of excellence 

Matthew will succeed Helen Hutton-Attenborough, who has served as head for the past seven years with great distinction. Her dedication and innovative leadership have fostered a nurturing and academically rigorous environment for young learners. The school community expresses its heartfelt gratitude for her remarkable contributions. 

Matthew’s role is similar to Helen’s, though he will more overtly work across the prep and pre-prep schools, under the new label of “the junior school”, with EYFS and Years 1-2 located in “Fan Court” under the excellent leadership of Michael Williams, and Years 3-6 located in “Stable Court” 

The appointment of a head of junior school is one of many steps in our programme to unite what is best about each stage in a pupil’s journey, enabling children to make excellent progress in their learning and personal development, and ensuring every child can make the most of the Claremont’s one hundred acres of happiness. 


A leader with vision and experience 

Matthew will join Claremont from Holme Grange School, Wokingham, where he has been deputy head for the past seven years and where he has played a key role in driving significant change and whole school initiatives. 

Prior to Holme Grange, Matthew has held a number of senior leadership positions including head of St Edmund’s School in Canterbury, deputy head at The Perse Prep School, Cambridge, head of lower school at The Perse School and second-in-charge of English at Hampton School.  

Beyond his school leadership roles, Matthew has served as a governor and an ISI inspector, demonstrating his deep understanding of the educational landscape and commitment to quality assurance. Matthew takes on an important role at an exciting time for Claremont, commenting: “I am delighted to be appointed head of the junior school at such a prestigious and forward-thinking school. I have been highly impressed by Claremont’s strong ethos, vibrant learning environment, and dedication to nurturing young minds. I look forward to building upon the remarkable legacy established by Helen Hutton-Attenborough, collaborating with Michael Williams and the talented junior school team to ensure a seamless transition and continued success for the whole school. I am very much looking forward to meeting and getting to know all of the pupils.” 


Beyond the classroom 

Matthew and his wife, Felicia, live in Berkshire and have three children (Lily; Rose and Alfred), two cats (Moonie and Jess) and a dog (Daisy). 

Matthew brings a well-rounded perspective to his role, balancing his professional life with a passion for reading, writing, and sports. His dedication to lifelong learning and an active lifestyle resonates with the school’s holistic approach to education.  


Q&A with Matthew Jelley 

What do you most enjoy about education?  

It has to be the variety – no two days are the same and there is a real buzz to life in a school. It is great to be able to spend time with such a kaleidoscope of personalities. School life can be fast paced and at times can be a real rollercoaster – being part of a large community means you encounter all sorts of situations even in one day, from the moving to the hilarious. It really is a privilege to play a role in so many people’s lives and I hope I have done my bit in giving the children in my care the leg up they needed. 

I also enjoy the ability to be creative – teaching is a very personal practice in many ways and it is a real privilege to be part of a sector where that autonomy is celebrated. I do have a bit of a creative streak myself and try to bring that into my working day as much as possible. The capacity for imagination, for me, is such a crucial character virtue: think of how bereft our world would be without those who dreamed big! 

What was it about Claremont that made you apply for the head of junior school role? 

I was at that stage in my career where to look for the next step was the obvious thing to do and when I saw the job advertised, I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat a little. I have heard very good things about the school, and have been impressed with the growth and evolution over the past few years. Knowing what it takes to make a through-school work, I knew I could be of value and I began to fully realise what a fantastic opportunity was on offer at Claremont when I visited for interviews and met various future colleagues and pupils through the process. I love the straightforward and collaborative approach the school takes to carrying out its business – schooling is not always simple but I know that the team I’ll be joining is full of talented, hard working and committed people, and very much look forward to playing a key role in the school’s future direction. 

What will you bring to the role? 

Apart from a few dodgy trinkets and mementos I have accumulated along the way (a much loved – and cracked – porcelain Mr Football pen holder, for example), and an indefatigable enthusiasm for Coventry City F.C., I hope I can bring care, enthusiasm, wisdom and a down to earth approach to working with children and their parents. It can be a tough job, but it is a hugely rewarding one, and I don’t take lightly the responsibility we have for playing a significant role in a child’s life. 

What are the main aspects you will focus on in your first year? 

I am very much looking forward to getting to know everyone and playing a full role in the life of school. I am not coming into the role with preconceived ideas and know that the school I am joining is already a wonderfully happy and successful place to be. I am keen to immerse myself in the life of the school and learn as much as I can but I am also sure that there will be areas that I can evolve further to enhance the provision for the pupils of the Junior School. 

Can you tell us a little about you and your passions and interests? 

Family first – I am married to Felicia, and we have three children: Lily, Rose and Alfred. We are a close bunch and it is important that we spend time together when we can, although my wife’s recently established cat hotel business means we spend quite a bit of time caring for our furry feline visitors too.  

We also have animals of our own: Daisy the dog (patterned like a Friesian cow), and Moonie and Jess the cats. My son wants a rat but that’s a stretch, I think. 3 animals and 3 children is enough of a menagerie for now!  

I am a pretty active person so I don’t like sitting still for too long (although I am immovable for 90 minutes if my football team is playing on the television!). I am training for a half marathon currently (due to run in April) and played football until quite recently, despite everyone telling me that a man of my age shouldn’t be trying to keep up with the kids!  

I love reading, theatre and film. Literature is such an important part of our cultural heritage and I feel strongly that all children should read but also be read to (I still read to my kids, although our eighteen-year-old has grown out of that now, sadly!). If anyone is interested, Patrick Ness’ “A Monster Calls” is such a wonderfully moving tale aimed at children in upper prep and beyond. I also enjoyed “A Pinch of Magic” by Michelle Harrison, with my daughter. For younger readers, I have hooted with laughter reading the “Mr Gum” series to my lot; such silliness but very clever at times too! I do own a guitar and try to play it when I can. Emphasis on the word “try”. 

What will you miss about your current school? 

In moving away from Holme Grange, I am going to miss the people: pupils, staff and parents. It is a lovely community and having been part of the school’s journey over the past seven years I am proud of what we have achieved together and have many happy memories. However, whilst I may reflect wistfully on the past, I am also hugely excited about the prospect of joining Claremont and making many, many more happy memories to mark the next stage in my career.