Welcome to Cooper Lodge, St Edward’s newest boarding House.
t Edward’s recently announced plans to open a new boarding House. The House will be for boys in the Lower School, becoming co-ed in the Sixth Form. The first of the House’s pupils will join Cooper Lodge, with their newly appointed Housemaster, Fergus Livingstone, before moving to their new permanent home once the building work has been completed in 2020. The first boys will join the Shell year in September 2018, with the first girls joining in the Lower Sixth for September 2020.
New Housemaster, Fergus Livingstone, discusses his vision for Cooper Lodge, and introduces himself and his family.
Tell us about Cooper Lodge
We are going to be a little gang of 10 Shells next year, all boys to start with. We plan to grow the House this way in increments over a couple of years, moving into the new House when it is ready and integrating girls into the Sixth Form. For at least the first two years we are going to be small compared to the other Houses, but we will want to have a go at everything.
What about the new co-ed boarding House?
When fully established, we are going to be the first co-ed House at Teddies. Other schools have pioneered this very successfully in recent years and it is great that we are planning to offer the same opportunity here.
What are you most looking forward to about creating a new House community?
So many societies, clubs, institutions and professions in this country are welcoming both men and women to live, work and mix together these days in ways that would have been unthinkable a generation ago; I am delighted that we are following this trend. Good behaviours are learned, and we have some way yet to go as a society before we all sufficiently respect each other’s space and right to live, thrive and develop friendships as we choose.
Teddies is already playing a very positive and important role in that respect, and I hope that the new House will play a role in extending that progress we are making. I hope that it will feel an extension of the families of the pupils in it, and an extension of mine and those of the other staff on the team there too.
Take us through your career to date
I started my teaching career here at Teddies as it happens, back in the last century. I was here initially for only a year, after having finished at Cambridge and before going to teach English at Eton College. I coached lots of sports and directed many plays at Teddies and at Eton, and loved every minute of it.
From there I went to Brazil for two years to be Head of English at the British school in Sao Paulo, and came back to England to run the English Department at Bishop’s Stortford College. I then went to Lancashire to be Deputy Head at Rossall, and came south some years later to take up the Headship of Lord Wandsworth College.
After a good stint there my family and I decided in 2015 to go and live in Iceland for a few years. My wife is half Icelandic and we have extensive family there and many friends. It has been wonderful and we are delighted to have established a home there. But we are home here too. It is lovely to be back in Oxford, where I was born and raised.
How about your family?
My wife Gudrun is an opera singer. She was a scholar at the Royal Academy when we met. I have a step son called Thor who is 24 and a musician – a pianist and composer based in Reykjavik. Eva, our daughter, is starting in Mac’s in the Lower Sixth in September, and Peter in Segar’s in the Shells.
What are your hobbies outside School?
I have lots. Some I am quite competent at, others utterly terrible. Fishing for example. I flail around making a lot of splashes and noise and getting tangled up; any self-respecting fish should be embarrassed to be caught by me.
What do you enjoy most about working at Teddies?
It’s an extraordinarily beautiful school in the most fantastic location, but what I have always loved most about Teddies is its people. It has produced, for many generations, grounded, decent, broad minded and broad hearted people. I have great affection for the friends I have made here as a pupil and a young teacher, and in the years since. And I include in that people like the two girls who joined my year in Field House in 1983: they were part of the first cohort of girls to join the Sixth Form here, and they were a great addition to the House and became good friends.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Life isn’t only about the view from the top. You need to smell the flowers on the way up. The most fragrant blooms are often in the foothills.