Andrew McCleave is Headmaster at Ballard School in New Milton.

Having mainly worked in Independent Day Schools around the London area (Lady Eleanor Holles, City of London Freemen’s, Emanuel, Lady Margaret), he started at Ballard as Headmaster in the summer of 2018.

A Geography teacher by trade, Andrew has also taught Economics and Business at A level.

His wife, Catherine, also works at Ballard, and the couple have two children – one is off to Leeds College of Music this month and the other is reading Civil Engineering at Swansea.

The family dog, Merlin, has pretty much been adopted by the school, "the children love our early morning tours," says Andrew.

Bournemouth Echo: Ballard School headteacher Andrew McCleave with the family dog, MerlinBallard School headteacher Andrew McCleave with the family dog, Merlin


What would be your perfect day out in Dorset?

I would start in the Branksome Beach Café with Eggs Benedict; then off for a walk along the coast towards The Jazz Café. Head over to Old Harry and maybe some refreshments at The Pig. I would finish the day at a concert at the BIC or Pavilion; I have seen some great artists since I have been living here – the best act was Tears for Fears, who were excellent.


What are your fondest memories of the county?

As I child I spent most my holidays in Dorset, heading over to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, visiting Bovington Tank Museum, or playing on the beach in Dorset Bay. As a Geography teacher for well over 20 years I have always been keen to bring children to Studland, Swanage, the Jurassic Coast or Kimmeridge Bay.

Some pupils, who live in London, have never visited Dorset, and they have always been amazed by the stunning scenery found in those places.


What has been your proudest achievement?

Outside of teaching, I look at our two wonderful children and couldn’t be prouder. Ballard’s reaction to the COVID-19 lockdown was fantastic. The approach of the staff and pupils showed real resilience and determination, and the feedback from parents was universally appreciative and positive. As I said in our end of year Speech Day, “over this time I have never been more proud to lead such a positive, supportive and ambitious community”.


Where do you get your inspiration from?

The children here at Ballard. Being a Head is a demanding role in all schools, and never more so than during our recent pandemic, so I love to walk around the school at lesson changeover or during breaks. The children always greet me, and Merlin, with a cheery hello, even our 16 year olds, and this renews my enthusiasm and belief that the school is helping these children to become great citizens of the future.


What would be your favourite thing to do when you have a day off?

If I can sneak up to London to catch a game at my beloved Stamford Bridge, I will. If not, heading to one of our local beaches, usually Sandbanks or Studland Bay with Catherine and Merlin, blows the cobwebs away and resets the mind.


Where is your favourite place to eat in the county?

We went with all the family to The Jetty in Christchurch to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary recently. The food was stunning and the service impeccable. After a long week at work, Catherine and I love to wander up to Bellaggio in Winton for an Italian. The food is great, the atmosphere is lively and the welcome always warm.


What three things do you associate with Dorset?

Beaches, good food and fresh air. Two of those are a big change from London.


If you could summarise the county in one word what would it be?