A former pupil has been taken over as head of the Buchan School.
Jane Corlett is the first head of the private school to have been educated there.
She began her school career at Peel Clothworkers’ School during which, inspired by her older brother who was already an academic scholarship recipient at King William’s College, she and a friend sat the scholarship exam for what was then the island’s only all-girl joint junior and senior school.
She was awarded one of only two full boarding scholarships for academic achievement and soon found herself absorbed in dormitory life along with just 11 other girls in her year at the Buchan’s Westhill boarding premises in Castletown.
‘Unlike today, we went to lessons in a housing terrace on Bowling Green Road,’ Miss Corlett said.
‘It was very dusty, it was very creaky and a little bit old in places, but the building itself and also the teachers within it opened us up to such a range of character that it really did help to form us as the resourceful and confident Buchan girls we were to become.’
Miss Corlett discovered a talent for sports such as swimming, netball, tennis, and hockey, a sport which, despite having never encountered before her time at Buchan, was to continue to play an important role in her life.
She continued in her studies at the Buchan, becoming school prefect at upper sixth level, as well as head of house and the school hockey captain.
‘All in all, I spent seven years living at Westhill, and I remember, during the holidays, that although I loved being at home with my family, I couldn’t wait to get back to school,’ she said. ‘There was always something to do.
‘It is a rare privilege to be part of an educational environment that breeds such sentiment in its students, and this is something that I’m keen to maintain as head.’
Miss Corlett went on to study French and Spanish at University in Manchester in 1975 in order to pursue a passion for travel and develop a talent for languages which, once having graduated, she put to use as the manager of a holiday complex, but in Portugal.
‘As a Buchan girl I simply wasn’t fazed by that at all,’ she said. ‘You simply roll up your sleeves and draw upon that “can do” attitude. I stayed there for a number of years but always missed home. I do believe the Isle of Man is the best place in the world to live.’
Miss Corlett returned to the island in 1983 where, while considering a career in accountancy, she was contacted by a former teacher from the Buchan with a request to assist a Portuguese-speaking student who wished to complete her ‘O’ level in the subject.
‘Again, it was just one of those things that grew from the smallest opportunity.
‘During that same academic year the chance arose to take over from the school’s full time teacher of Spanish and French, again a former teacher of mine, who was retiring – so, again, I rolled up my sleeves and accepted the challenge.
‘It was such a strange experience to be back amongst my former teachers, many of whom I absolutely worshipped, and indeed some of whom I have remained in contact with.
‘While teaching, however, this also meant that I needed to gain a formal teaching qualification, so I returned to university, this time in Liverpool, for a year. That was the beginning of my official term here, and I haven’t looked back.’
Miss Corlett’s career with the school has since seen her assume the role of head of languages at The Buchan School before moving to King William’s College where she held the position of housemistress then head of senior school, before ultimately being appointed vice principal, a position which she has held for the past 15 years.
Miss Corlett is also a motorcycle rider, licensed HGV and bus driver, a former street circuit kart racer (once British Women Racing Driver Club champion), community volunteer with the police and is a qualified independent schools inspector with a specialism in boarding. This role in particular, Miss Corlett said, allowed for great insight into the environment and culture of independent schools across the UK.
Martin Humphreys, principal at King William’s College, said: ‘The appointment of Jane is the natural progression in a career which has been deeply intertwined with the school and its founding principles.
‘Jane’s is a remarkable story which demonstrates her tenacity as an individual, her commitment to our pupils, and the breadth of her teaching experience. I look forward to seeing what the next chapter will bring.’
Miss Corlett added: “‘Overall, it is of course very strange to think of my journey to becoming Head of Buchan, but I’m absolutely certain that it was my time here that allowed me to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.
‘We all learn to stand on our feet very quickly here: there is a common sense of resourcefulness, an inherent appreciation of character and confidence, and a climate of encouragement and freedom to develop which has encouraged Buchan and College pupils consistently to push the boundaries of their own education, regardless of ability.
‘Our vision for the future is to continue as such, to furnish our pupils with the means to meet the demands of the modern educational and professional world in what is increasingly a global market place.
‘Overall, it is a delight to be back at the Buchan and to offer our pupils the wonderful experiences and opportunities which I continue to appreciate.’