Tash’s friendly and welcoming manner have put thousands of visiting boys and parents at ease over the 17 years since she joined in 2006. We asked Tash to cast her mind back to the early days when her time was split between Foundation and the newly-created Admissions department.
Initially I worked for two days in Foundation and three days in Admissions. Admissions as a department started in January 2006 – before that, Mary Hutchinson, the Warden’s Secretary, handled admissions, but of course it was a very different entity then. There were only eight Socials, no assessment days or open days, the Radley List was the primary route of entry and the Tutors would organise visits for parents themselves.
The new department had been set up by Liz Barker, wife of the then Senior Master, Charlie. It was a whole new world for both of us! The department became increasingly busy so within a year I started to work full-time in Admissions.
Tell us about life in the early days of the new department.
Liz and I worked well together, and in 2010 we were joined by Anne Blagrove who had also moved from Foundation. Anne enjoyed the administration side of
the admissions process and I loved meeting parents and boys, so we were the perfect team! Initially we were all based in what is now Sophie Langdale’s office in Mansion. When Liz left in 2011, Vanessa Hammond took over as Registrar and Sophie joined as Director of Admissions and Communications in 2020.
So much has changed at Radley since 2006 but a lot of things haven’t changed at all. I love the sense of tradition but at the same time I find Radley a really creative place to work.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Chatting to the boys is definitely a highlight. I often sit with them while they wait for their interview and I love these conversations, we talk about so many varied subjects. You have to find the one thing that makes them light up. Having a ten-year-old son is very helpful!
On one occasion, I was sitting with a boy outside the Warden’s office who was nervously holding the essay he had written, ready to discuss it in his interview. Somehow it slipped out of his grasp and fell straight between the floorboards. I don’t know how he did it, the gaps are tiny and believe me, whenever I tell this story, boys try to do the same thing and don’t manage it! Luckily we keep copies of the essays so all was well, but one day someone will come across that essay on endangered tigers somewhere under the floorboards in Mansion! All was not lost and the boy starts in Shells this year!
What do you think makes Radley special?
During my 17 years here, I’ve married and had two children and as much as I love being a wife and a mum, I’ve always felt that Radley is a place where I can be just Tash! I’m privileged to remember the boys who came to visit when they were 10 years old who were nervous and shy and five years later see them grow into lovely young men. Meeting prospective parents and seeing the campus for the first time through their eyes is lovely, as is seeing a boys’ excitement when they walk into Hall or Chapel or see the possibilities in the Art and Design department.
As well as working with a really talented, fabulous and hard-working team in Admissions, I love working with the wider Radley team, especially with the Tutors past and present. We share this close-knit campus and everyone works together and supports each other.
While term-time is of course very busy, I enjoy the different rhythm of the holidays – I find my path crosses with people I often don’t see so much of during the rest of the year, and as a department we are able to be less reactive and have more time for planning. I often work on Saturdays and again, you see a different side of the College at the weekends.
What changes are you anticipating as we start the new term?
We have an Innovation Scholarship which is new for this year and will be very interesting. The Radley Keys Award, our re-branded funded place programme is also being launched and we are all very excited about it. Over the years that’s what I’ve found so amazing – every year has been different, with changes and improvements to processes and systems and growing the team to keep pace with the College’s development.
Can you describe Radley in three words?
Happy. Busy. Supportive.