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Pastoral Leads and Heads of Year

Ms Jessica Sheldrick Deputy Head (DSL)

I arrived at Rishworth school in September 2003 as a newly qualified Biology Teacher. I fell in love with the ethos, pastoral values and have been here ever since! My journey at school involved becoming Head of Middle School, then added Head of Lower School, then Deputy DSL, before becoming Pastoral Head and DSL and finally my current role as Deputy Head. I have run a range of enrichment activities and trips across my time including Trek USA 2008, Nepal 2018 and I have overall responsibility for DofE and I’ve introduced Gold. I believe that pastoral care is vital for all students to achieve success, I'm driven to ensure the highest standards from both staff and students and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the Rishworth community.


Mrs Rhonda McMullen-Cooper (Head of Boarding)

With more than 20 years of experience in leading and managing boarding departments I am passionate about offering the best experience for the students who choose to board with us at Rishworth. 

Drawing on my knowledge, training and experience I am keen to develop a boarding programme which encourages independence and resilience in our students while being underpinned by the school values of valour, kindness, individuality and curiosity. 

The boarding staff live on site with our families and this reinforces our home from home ethos, encouraging boarders to feel relaxed and comfortable in their surroundings and have a less formal relationship than with the academic staff at school. 



Mrs Diane Robinson (Matron) 

Working initially as an Assistant Matron and learning the ropes from more experienced practitioners, I took over the role of Matron in 1999. At Rishworth, Matron has many different roles and responsibilities. I take great pride in my work at Rishworth and relish the opportunity of being fully involved in the pastoral and wellbeing support of our students and staff. The Matrons provides medical provision within the school and support the boarding staff with the pastoral care of the boarders in evenings and weekends. I am the Lead First Aider and provide first aid support to both students and adults in school. I am also the Deputy DSL helping to deal with any safeguarding issues that arise. I oversee the Matronic Department which operates 24 hours a day, catering for the needs of day and boarding students. I have a team of Assistant Matrons who ensure that all students who require medical care or emotional support have their needs fully met, whether a supportive listening ear, simple first aid or signposting students to external wellbeing or medical agencies. I liaise with the local GP Surgery and local dentists who provide any medical intervention necessary, and where required, local hospitals. I also liaise with the local Immunisation Team to coordinate routine immunisations and, where necessary organisations such as Public Health England.



Mr Nick Cooper (Head of Lower School - Year 7&8)

I am a pastoral leader who wants all students to achieve their very best. Compassionate and understanding, I aim to provide friendly and supportive conditions where students want to improve themselves and feel safe to take a risk to do so. I passionately believe that for people to thrive they ought to be given opportunities to examine their mistakes and put them right, regardless of whether those mistakes be academic or pastoral. I have overall responsibility for transition, moving to secondary school is an exciting event for students and their families but can also give rise to questions, particularly when the process is unfamiliar. Please be assured that our aim is to ensure that every student starts Year 7 confident that they are cared for and that they will make excellent progress and achieve success whatever their background or level of ability.


Mrs Gina Edmunds (Head of Year 9) 

I began my teaching career in Liverpool in 2002 before moving back to the wonderful Pennines a few years later.  I have worked as a leader within Mathematics departments as well as providing pastoral support for students in my tutor groups.  My move to Rishworth School in 2020 saw me take on the role of head of year, a role I am growing into as I learn more about how to support my year group and especially their individual needs.


Mr Ian Lewis (Head of Year 10)


Ms Rebecca Sutcliffe (Head of Year 11) 

With 23 years’ experience working in the independent sector, having led both pastoral and academic teams, it is my strong belief that the empathetic and personalised pastoral care offered at Rishworth gives our students the best opportunity to fulfil their potential. I believe that to support our students to become emotionally intelligent adults, our team help them negotiate both the triumphs and the pitfalls of being a teenager, with kindness and fairness at the heart of our comprehensive reward and intervention system. Central to the efficacy of our approach is the strong links we form between school and home as a network to ensure your child’s time at Rishworth is a positive one.


Mr Peter Robinson (Head of Sixth Form) 

Having spent 17 years running one of the boy’s boarding houses at Rishworth and now working through my 21st year as Head of Sixth Form, I have a wealth of experience of pastoral responsibilities. The world and society have changed considerably, especially over the last few years and this is reflected in the needs of our older students who are trying to forge their own identities, rise to the challenges of becoming increasingly independent, cope with the demands of their academic studies while balancing their time with a plethora of valuable extra-curricular activities, both within and outside school and thinking ahead and planning for university or employment or apprenticeship options, all within the Rishworth School setting with the necessary structures, routines and expectations. This is not always easy. A system based on mutual respect between staff and students will inevitably reap reward. The Sixth Form are treated like the young adults that they are. They are given responsibilities as Prefects, Members of the School Council and Charity Committee and Captains of sports teams and are empowered to make constructive use of their non-taught time. This does not happen by default, it requires the structures, the guidance and support of teachers and tutors, reminders, mistakes made and lessons learned. The Sixth Form is an important period of transition as the students move towards the post-school world. I have a dedicated team of Tutors who see and support the students on a day-to-day basis as well as an Assistant Head of Sixth Form who supports me in overseeing all aspects of the Sixth Form and who is in-charge of the Enhanced Curriculum which includes the RSE Programme. As part of the overall pastoral responsibilities, the Head of Sixth Form manages and oversees the university application process to help ensure that students are supported to enable realistic offers are achieved. 

I have been lucky over the years, to have pastoral responsibility for a great many super young people who have reflected well our “Res Non Verba” ethos and who have gone on to great things. I look forward to seeing this continue as we head towards our 300th Anniversary.


Mrs Rachel Marshall (Assistant Head of Sixth Form)