New Beginnings


September 2023 heralds, not only a new school year at Old Buckenham Hall, but also a new Head. L-J Andrew caught up with James Large ahead of his first day

What made Old Buckenham Hall stand out?

OBH has always been known for its pupils and the lasting impression they create. Whether in lessons or out representing the school, the children are exceptionally confident, talented, but above all conscientious, so it’s no surprise that so many go on to take up leadership positions in many of the country’s most prestigious senior schools.

Having the opportunity to work more closely with such inspiring young people and the amazing staff that have helped to make this a reality, is something my wife and I feel incredibly lucky to be doing.

How do you plan to build on the school’s esteemed reputation?

No matter how established a school’s reputation is, we must always have an eye to the future, particularly in such rapidly changing times. As the oldest Prep School in the East of England, OBH is steeped in history, but we’re committed to ensuring that our pupils receive an education that prepares them brilliantly for life in the 21st century. In the case of schools, I don’t believe tradition and modernity need to be conflicting forces, but instead can coexist to create a truly rounded education.

What will this look like at OBH? Expect to see a curriculum that marries traditional elements with more cutting-edge subjects like engineering, robotics and AI. Outside of the classroom, pupils will experience sector-leading Sport, Performing Arts and Outdoor Education programmes.

Tell us about how you plan to bolster the school’s set of values, ‘The OBH Way’

Developing the character of pupils should be at the heart of what any school does, but committing to a set of values like those of The OBH Way, means more than just putting up posters. Everything we do as a school should seek to inculcate these virtues in our pupils, from discussions in the classroom to experiencing success and failure on the sports field or the music stage.

I believe that a central theme of any character education programme should be a desire to serve others and over the coming years, I hope that OBH pupils can use The OBH Way to serve their school, the local community and the wider planet.

What is your vision for the school in the future?

My vision is simple: for OBH to be recognised as being the premier boarding prep school in the East of England, where children are truly happy and feel safe to take risks and reach their full potential in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable.

What lesson learnt in your previous roles will you be bringing with you?

Schools are fast-paced, busy environments and the demand for teachers have only grown in recent years, so sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of why we’re all doing it. It’s always helpful to take a step back and remember that schools, when done well, are places that are full of joy. We’re in the business of creating the happiest years in young people’s lives and creating memories that will stay with them forever and I’ve always been incredibly proud of my colleagues that help to make this a reality.

When in doubt, have fun and make children smile.

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