Kate Etheridge

I am a teacher of English and the leader of debating and public speaking provision at South Hampstead High School.

As the child of two teachers, my decision to work in education was influenced by the value my parents always placed on it. I was also motivated by my own love of learning, which initially inspired me to pursue undergraduate and then postgraduate study. In 2012, I completed my undergraduate degree in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, obtaining a Congratulatory First; in 2013, I completed my master’s degree in Comparative Literature (French and English) at Oxford, obtaining a Distinction. My deep enjoyment of my studies of literature led me to continue down the academic path. I received a grant from the Arts Council to study for a doctoral degree in French literature and visual art from the University of Oxford, which I successfully completed in 2016. My thesis explored the role of mirrors in the literary and visual culture of late nineteenth-century Paris.

During my time as a postgraduate student, I also spent two years working at Magdalen College School in Oxford, introducing students in Years 7-13 to a range of challenging French literary texts. This job greatly contributed to my decision to pursue a career in teaching. Since 2016, I have been an English teacher at South Hampstead High School, a school for girls in London. This position has enabled me to share my love of literature with energetic, enthusiastic young people. For the past two and a half years, I have led debating and public speaking at SHHS, introducing a wide range of new events, trips and clubs that have increased student participation and have led to numerous competitive successes. I have also established a Debating Hub for a range of schools in the local area, offering workshops, CPD and competitive opportunities. As a result of this, in 2020, SHHS won the English Speaking Union’s Oracy Culture Award, which recognises and celebrates schools that champion public speaking and debate. Our initiatives have encouraged students to gain confidence in their ideas and to be more assertive in expressing their opinions, which I believe to be especially critical for young women in today’s society.