Abbey College Cambridge Main Entrance

Announcement of the New Principal

1st August 22

Abbey College Cambridge is delighted to announce that Dr Elena (Ellen) Hesse has been appointed as the new Principal of Abbey College Cambridge.  She will be taking up her appointment in April 2023 at the start of the Summer Term.

Ellen has a Master’s Degree from Matej Bel University in Slovakia where she majored in Biology and English. She also has a Doctorate Degree in the Theory and Practice of Teaching from the University of Konstantine Philosopher in Nitra.

Ellen is currently the Vice Principal of St Clare’s, Oxford. The college has very high academic standards and regularly sends students to the top universities in the UK and abroad. Prior to taking up the position at St Clare’s in 2018, Ellen was the Head of Pastoral Care and Head of Boarding at The Royal School in Surrey where she also taught Science. Before this she was at Cobham Hall School in Kent, having started her teaching career in the UK at King’s Ely.

In addition to her eight years of senior leadership experience and extensive experience of working with international students, Ellen is an experienced ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) Inspector. She is also a fully qualified Human Resources professional (Associate CIPD).

Ellen has featured as a speaker and panellist at Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) conferences. She was invited to speak at the BSA Inclusion and Diversity Conference 2020 on the topic of Global Inclusiveness.  She contributed to the BSA Conference entitled ‘Sharpening our Focus’ in February 2021 and she also shared her experience and expertise at a British Association of Independent Schools with International Students (BAISIS) Conference entitled ‘Supporting International Students in British Independent Schools’ in March 2021.  In June 2022 she was involved in the BSA’s Equality Diversity Inclusivity Professional Practice Day.

Ellen is a Governor at The Wheatley Nursery and John Watson Federation in Oxford.  As the Chair of the Pay Committee and the Chair of Resources, she is committed to providing strong governance.

In her school years, Ellen was awarded a place at the Sports Grammar School in Banska Bystrica, the school for elite young athletes. She competed in high jump at national level but later decided to follow an academic route rather than that of a professional sportswoman. She is a keen runner and competes in marathons and ultra-trails. Ellen is also fascinated by different cultural perspectives and travels extensively with her German husband. She has visited many countries including South Africa, Oman, Malaysia, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, the USA, Cuba and most European countries.

On speaking about the appointment Ellen commented “I feel very privileged to be appointed Principal of Abbey College Cambridge.  The college encapsulates my own personal passions: academic rigour, personal development and diversity.

The students I met on my visit to Abbey College Cambridge were self-assured young people who spoke eloquently and impressed me with their high levels of motivation and engagement.  The expertise, dedication and commitment of the staff also shone through.  I am looking forward to working alongside such a fantastic and high-performing team when I join the College community in April.”

The College Management Team and Governors will be in close contact with Ellen over the coming two terms to ensure as smooth a transfer as possible and we look forward to welcoming Ellen to Abbey College Cambridge in April.

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