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Housemistress of Buchanans Oakham School

In The Spotlight with Boarding Housemistress Lianne Aherne

14th December 2022

In our next instalment of our ‘In the Spotlight’ series, we chat with Lianne Aherne, who joined Oakham School in September as the Housemistress of Boarding House, Buchanans and Teacher of Geography.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am the Housemistress of Buchanans and a member of the Geography Department. Prior to this, I have spent many happy years supporting girls within the boarding school context in a variety of different roles, most recently as Director of Sixth Form and Deputy Safeguarding Lead. I love the richness of boarding school life and being part of a vibrant community in which everybody is encouraged to make the most of the myriad of opportunities available.

What is your typical working day?

As a Housemistress, you never know exactly what your day is going to look like, and this is what makes it so enjoyable! I am therefore going to cheat and just highlight some of the common themes that crop up:

  1. Spending time with the girls in House – This is absolutely the best thing about this role. If you have visited Buchanans, you will have heard about the Purple Common Room, which is a space where girls tend to congregate, and it is a great place to find out about how their days are going. In addition to this, we gather as a whole house twice a day, and during these times, we often talk about important issues and think about how we can tackle them. If the girls are playing in matches or taking part in other activities, I will go along to support them and being able to share in their life beyond the classroom means that you get to know them each as individuals really well.
  2. Communicating with parents and guardians – It goes without saying that this is one of the most important parts of my job. We are all part of a team supporting their daughters, and it is important that we chat with each other.
  3. Meeting with the Buchanans House Team – I am lucky to be supported by a brilliant team of House tutors who help me in caring for the girls. We can often be found having quick catch-ups to check in and plan for what is coming up.
  4. Teaching Geography – I love my subject and being able to share my enthusiasm for it with my classes. I teach students from Form 1 to Form 6, so I will spend time preparing my lessons, spending time with fellow members of the Geography Department as well as being in the classroom. I am always impressed with the curiosity of those that I teach, and I enjoy having to think on my feet when answering some of their more challenging questions. Something that has been really noticeable about Geography at Oakham is how strongly embedded fieldwork is, and I have already been on three field trips to Cambridge, Leicester and Iceland.
  5. Meeting prospective families – This is an opportunity for me to reflect on what makes boarding at Oakham special, and I can often get carried away when chatting! It is also an opportunity for me to give a tour of the boarding house and a particular highlight is our brand-new kitchen which we are enjoying using.
  6. Meeting with the wider pastoral team – One of the things that I have really valued since joining Oakham is the breadth of experience in the Housemaster/Mistress team led by Mrs Gomm. Their enthusiasm and commitment to providing the highest level of care are really inspiring.

What do you like about your job the most? 

I consider it a real privilege to be able to look after the girls in my care. To be able to play a small part in shaping their outlooks on life and in helping equip them with the skills and personal qualities that will allow them to thrive on a day-to-day basis is incredibly rewarding. There is so much joy to be found in the day, and the girls never fail to make me laugh or smile. Regular highlights though are when they tell you about something that they are proud of, or they have enjoyed doing during the day and also when I see them looking out for each other. The girls in Buchanans are proud of their House and want everybody in it to be the best that they can be, and time and time again, I see them undertake small acts of kindness which make a difference to their community.

What is your aim as the Housemistress of Buchanans?

I believe that my role is to create a happy and purposeful environment whereby girls are supported and encouraged to make the most of the opportunities available to them and to fulfil their potential in all areas of school life. I also want them to have been equipped with the foundations for success upon leaving Oakham and to be committed to making a positive difference in society.

Something people don’t know about you or your department/role?

I once led a month-long trip to Mongolia where half of it was spent on horseback. I would thoroughly recommend visiting as it is a unique country both in terms of its physical landscape and the communities that inhabit it.

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