New Head from September 2024

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Oliver Knight to be our next Head from September 2024. Mr Knight will succeed Mr Thomas Garnier, who will be stepping down as Head in July 2024 after 19 years of dedicated service. 

Mr Knight has two passions: education and the outdoors. Pangbourne will be his fourth headship. His first headship was in 2014 in Greenwich and then in 2017 he became Executive Head of Phoenix Academy, moving in 2019 to be Principal of Ark Acton Academy. 

On his appointment, Mr Oliver Knight said: “It is a huge honour to be appointed as the new Head at Pangbourne and to work with such a committed community of staff, students, parents, and Old Pangbournians. I was struck during my visits to Pangbourne by how happy and relaxed the students were and the strength of the relationships between staff and students.”

“I am excited to take up my post and am committed to being a faithful steward as we work towards ensuring every pupil flourishes and benefits from the uniqueness of a Pangbournian education.”

Mr Knight transformed all three of his previous schools as an accomplished educationalist with a strong mission to drive up standards. Phoenix Academy was in Special Measures when he arrived and was the lowest performing school in London. Two years after he took over Phoenix Academy, it was the most improved school in London and in the top five nationally, rated as Good in all areas by Ofsted. 

In the four years he has been Principal at Ark Acton Academy, he has driven up standards in all areas and improved results year on year; such that last year the school achieved the best exam results in its history. Ark Acton’s inspection report stated that ‘School leaders are determined to make sure that all pupils succeed academically’. The number of students moving to Russell Group universities from Ark Acton is three times the national average for similar schools. 

Mr Knight is also a published author on education and teacher development, and one of his publications on curriculum planning and lesson design is currently included on PGCE courses. Alongside his published work on education, he is on the board of a successful Multi-Academy Trust and is a Governor for a London Prep School and Senior School.

The second pillar of his ethos is outdoor education and the co-curriculum. The co-curriculum is compulsory for his students. He has recently set up a Sports Scholarship Programme in conjunction with the Human Performance Scientists who work for Red Bull and Aston Martin FI teams; and his adventure programme has taken the first state school children to the top of Ben Nevis in Winter, as documented by The Sunday Times.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s award, at all three levels, forms a major component of his outdoor educational philosophy. Pangbourne College’s Chair of Governors, Mr Patrick Roberts, commented: “The field of candidates who applied to succeed Mr Garnier was strong but, notwithstanding this, the Governing Body was unanimous in its decision that Mr Knight must be our next Head. The calibre of the field is testament to the progress and strength of Pangbourne under the leadership of Mr Garnier.”

“This is a hugely exciting time for Pangbourne College and we are confident that Mr Knight is absolutely the right person to take the school yet further forward.”

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