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West Hampstead headteacher warns house prices exclude teachers

Samuel Drake started as Beckford Primary headteacher this year

13 September, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Headteacher Samuel Drake with Year 2 children Quinn, Desire and Tommy 

A headteacher at a primary school in West Hampstead has warned that house prices in the borough means teachers cannot afford to “live in the communities they serve”.

Samuel Drake, 42, who started at Beckford Primary in July, said he himself commuted to work from Brixton in south London despite growing up in Camden Town on the Agar Grove estate and attending Haverstock School as a child.

He said he was relishing the role after taking over from Samantha Smith, who was head at the school for 10 years, and said he felt “at home” in his new job, adding: “I have a real commitment to Camden. I really do think this is a world-class borough.”

But he added: “One problem with Camden is house prices. If I rented it might be ok but to buy is too expensive. Teachers should be able to afford to live in the communities they serve. Even as a headteacher, not being able to live where I grew up is difficult.”

Concern over the difficulties in finding affordable places to live for people devoted to public service jobs has been growing in recent years.

The New Journal previously revealed that one Camden teacher was commuting from as far away as the seaside town of Folkestone to take lessons. While this was an extreme case, it is a common concern among teaching unions that staff are being driven out by London’s expensive property market.

Mr Drake previously taught at Rhyl Primary School in Gospel Oak for 14 years and has also served as a deputy head at Canonbury Primary in Islington.

Beckford was rated “good” by Ofsted at its 2012 inspection and has class sizes of a maximum of 20 pupils. “They get more attention from their teachers which is unique,” he said.

Mr Drake said the school will be focusing on arts, music and extracurricular activities, adding: “Education should not just be test driven, I really believe that.”

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