#BellevueStories: Meet Nick Tucker, Head of Forest Park
Being a part of the Bellevue family of schools means benefitting from and seizing opportunities for growth within the Group. This month, we’re chatting to headteacher Nick Tucker, who began his headship story under the guidance of a fellow Bellevue headteacher, progressing in his career from one Bellevue school to another.
Nick has been headteacher at Forest Park Preparatory School since 2015, before which he was deputy headteacher at Forest Preparatory School – also in the Bellevue family.
‘I wasn’t the most astute student at school, should we say!’ Nick discloses. ‘There was a teacher I had when I was ten or 11, who put me on the right path and inspired me. From that age, I knew I wanted to work with children – and that becoming a teacher would mean studying a bit harder than I had been!’
Nick is proud to be the only member of his family to have gone to university. He says he was always ambitious as a teacher, beginning his career in the state sector in Warrington, and thereafter teaching Reception, Key Stage 1 and 2, as well as being a teacher governor and key stage leader.
‘I took up my headship around the time that Bellevue took ownership of Forest and Forest Park,’ says Nick. ‘Bellevue brought a lot of energy as a group, and gave me the support I needed to move into my new role.’
Nick believes there are real benefits to being part of an independent schools group, explaining that he received an induction programme alongside several other new headteachers when he took up his headship.
‘We were invited to events as a group to learn together, whether that be on pedagogical guidance, real-life advice on being in the role, guidance from heads across the group as guest speakers… that was really beneficial. I don’t think I would have received that if I wasn’t a part of Bellevue.
‘I also had a mentor, in former headteacher at Edenhurst Preparatory School, Nick Copestick, who had been a headteacher for 40 years. He was so helpful. I could always call him with any concerns or challenges.’
He mentions his joy at being able to still collaborate with Rick Hyde, current headteacher at Forest Preparatory School, as well.
‘I really enjoy the level of collaboration with other heads, as well as the advice of the governance, the finance and marketing teams,’ he says. He sums up Bellevue as ‘supportive’.
Reflecting on his time as Deputy Head, Nick says: ‘My fondest memory of Forest Preparatory School was the family feel – the way everyone was connected, whether headteacher to caretaker to caterer. Everyone believed in the school. And it was very refreshing to have so much autonomy, and to make the role my own. I feel I have brought that here, to Forest Park, too.’
He explains that the biggest challenge of his headship has been to instil the school’s message and vision. ‘I feel that has been achieved – our message is ‘I can and I will’ – and I truly believe in that.’
Nick describes the school as ‘adaptable’. ‘We are very forward-thinking at Forest Park, ‘he explains. The team here is unafraid to introduce new approaches – to take risks. I think we instil that courage in children. They are prepared for problem-solving and encouraged to collaborate, as they move forward in life.’
‘If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that collaboration is what we need!’
Looking back over his time as head so far, Nick recalls a funny fancy dress moment. ‘One of our pupils had a fantastic red Christmas-themed suit for Christmas dinner day,’ he says. ‘But when we next had a Christmas Jumper Day, he set me the challenge of finding and wearing the same suit – which I did. We had a ‘mini me’ moment for the day.
‘He came up into my office, sent a few emails, told a few people what to do… it was great fun.’
When it comes to emotional moments, Nick shares a day he describes as one of his best in the role. ‘We had a pupil who was a selective mute join the school some time ago,’ he says. ‘This pupil progressed in their speech so well, that they were able to deliver a speech at a competition in the school hall. To watch him deliver that as he did… I knew that would live long in the memory. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.’
‘Forest Park is the best place I have ever worked,’ Nick says. ‘My favourite part of the job is interacting with pupils, whether that’s in the classroom or delivering an assembly. I spend about 20-25% of my week teaching. Being involved with the kids remains the highlight, bar none.’
He picks up a card from his desk. ‘To Mr Tucker. You are the best headmaster ever. I love Forest Park. It is the best in the world.’
‘The most rewarding part is seeing the pupils develop throughout the school. I’m getting to the point where I’ve seen some pupils learn here from reception to their final year.
‘But similarly with staff, to be in a position to guide, support and watch them grow is inspiring. It’s really rewarding to see staff taking on challenges and being more confident than they had ever imagined when they entered the role.’
‘I feel very fortunate that I do a job I love every day.’
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