Lucy Elphinstone

Lucy Elphinstone

Headmistress, Francis Holland School, Sloane Square
Biography

Lucy didn’t intend to become a teacher.  After a degree in English at Cambridge University, she was convinced that a literary career beckoned, and she entered enthusiastically into the arcane world of publishing under the titan of the industry, Lady Collins herself.  Marriage subsequently (and unexpectedly) took her to northeast Scotland, where initiative was needed to support a growing family.  Lucy became a ghost writer for Hodder Headline whilst running her Scottish farmhouse as a B&B and partnering her husband in the family building business.  Six books and four children later, she realised that more income would be needed to provide a good education for the family in a rural location where boarding school might be needed.  She took over a private Montessori nursery school which she soon moved into the local prep school, thus cunningly providing discounted education for her children.  Quickly discovering the real joy of teaching, Lucy side-stepped into the prep school, becoming Head of English and Director of Studies whilst studying for a PGCE on the side.  As her children grew, she, too, ascended into the world of secondary education, gaining fascinating experience at Fettes College, Edinburgh, as Director of Drama, and then, after a move back to England, as Head of English at King’s Taunton and then Head of Sixth Form at Downe House.  Having experienced both mixed and single-sex education, Lucy is passionate about the ability of all children to grow, succeed and contribute in a fast-changing technological world, where creativity, curiosity, craftsmanship and collaboration are essential attributes alongside the academic aspects of learning.  During Lucy’s nine years at Francis Holland, Sloane Square, the School has enjoyed a transformation of its curriculum and character, as well as an expansion of its roll by nearly three hundred pupils.  Integral to its distinctive emphasis on enterprise and innovation is its foundation on the Christian principles of love and service to the community expressed by its founder, Queen Victoria’s chaplain, Canon Francis Holland in 1881.  The School is renowned for its outstanding pastoral care and wellbeing provision, having been for many years a leader in the support of children’s mental health.  Meanwhile, its superb academic results, its vast array of clubs and societies, its exceptional performing and creative arts, and its unique programme of developing entrepreneurial skill in all its pupils, make Francis Holland, Sloane Square, a highly sought-after school where girls become the very best they can be.  Lucy has initiated several significant building developments during her time as Headmistress.  In 2018, after a hugely successful fundraising campaign, a superb library with sensory roof-top garden was added to the site, along with a dance studio, computer science facilities and a fabulous refurbishment of the accommodation for senior girls, the Centre for Creative Enterprise.  In 2021, the latest development, a new Sixth Form Centre, added another 15% to the footprint of the School with a 900sqm refurbishment of The Old School House, a nineteenth century neo-gothic building next to the School.  This provides the vehicle for Lucy’s vision of a bridge between school and the wider community so that all Sixth Formers have the opportunity to develop their own enterprises under the mentoring of local entrepreneurs using the outstanding facilities for their work in exchange for coaching of our students.  Many of our senior girls have set up their own businesses and all give back to the local community a proportion of their sales.  An integrated programme of enrichment and social enterprise builds this understanding into FHS pupils throughout their career in the School.  An intrepid explorer, Lucy has hiked through the Andes, Tibet, and Ethiopia in the past few years, and shares her adventures with the girls to help them build resilience and courage.  She believes that academic success lies in girls learning to take risks and to bounce back from failure, so an atmosphere of ‘having a go’ pervades the School, with a myriad of opportunities for pupils to discover their talents.  Amidst all this endeavour, Lucy generates a sense of joy and fun by encouraging everyone to take part and ‘do it scared.’  She declares herself most proud of the happiness of the School and the knowledge that every child is loved just as she is, valued as a unique and wonderful individual.