Senior Leadership Team (SLT)

Gerard MacMahon

Gerard MacMahon

Executive Master
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Gerard MacMahon

Born in Dublin and raised in Bristol, Gerard graduated from the London School of Economics and trained as a teacher at London’s Institute of Education.  He began his career in 1988 teaching economics at Stokesley in North Yorkshire. Gerard then became the founding head of Sixth Form at Balcarras School in Cheltenham, where he was a member of the leadership team for seven years.

In 2004 he was appointed headteacher of the highly successful Sheldon School in Chippenham, Wiltshire.  In 2008, Sheldon School was judged outstanding in all 38 inspection categories by Ofsted.  In addition to academic success, the school also excelled in sports and the Arts.

Gerard was made a National Leader of Education in 2010 and Sheldon was identified as one of the top 100 schools in England when becoming a Teaching School in 2011.

Gerard moved to Qatar in 2012 to be headmaster of one of the world’s largest international schools – Al Khor International School.  During his tenure, Gerard has enjoyed the experience of leading a school with 4000 students aged 3 to 19 from over 60 different countries.

Eleanor Prescott

Eleanor Prescott

Principal | Head of Senior School
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Eleanor Prescott

Eleanor joined from Wellington College, UK where she was Housemistress of the Combermere boarding house and a teacher of Economics, Business Studies and Politics. Originally Head of Senior School in Shanghai, Eleanor assumed the role of Second Master in the first year and expanded her role to take on the Prep School in 2016. Deeply committed to the philosophy and ethos that Wellington College demonstrated, educating ‘the whole child’ whilst also delivering excellent exams results, she was delighted to be able to bring that experience to the group’s second school in China.

Prior to working in education Eleanor was an Investment Banker working in Debt Capital Markets at banks including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America. The financial crash of 2008 meant a return to university to retrain and qualify in Secondary Education, working for a year in the state sector teaching Spanish and French. Eleanor holds an MA in Economics and Politics from the University of Edinburgh and it is Economics that she continues to teach to IB Diploma students here.

Eleanor is passionate about learning and is particularly engaged in learning languages: Chinese is the current focus. Her challenge for this year is to take her ‘beyond survival’ level spoken Mandarin to the next level and to learn how to read and write characters properly! Other interests include Economic and World History including the History of Shanghai, something she develops by being a regular at the Historic Shanghai association. Eleanor also enjoys playing sport and being fit; Spinning being the current addition. Her main sport historically though has been skiing, which she took three years out of her banking career to do professionally, giving her the ability to live and work as an instructor in New Zealand, France and the USA. A passion for travel means that a break is always taken to explore – something for which her continued base in Shanghai gives much opportunity.

Barbara Faria

Barbara Faria

Head of Early Years
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Barbara Faria

Barbara joined Wellington College Shanghai as the Head of Early Years in 2019. She has worked in London for 17 years in outstanding settings, teaching in the Early Years and managing a children’s centre. Barbara has also worked in private settings in Portugal, including a British School, during the early years of her career.

Barbara completed her BA in Early Years education in Portugal, after attending two previous degrees in law and international relations. Despite not completing them, they offered her a wealth of knowledge and a desire for academic research. This led her to complete an MA in Early Years education at the Institute of Education in London, while participating in numerous studies regarding Early Years education. Barbara is looking forward to carry out a PhD in the future and to continue her research journey in China.

Barbara speaks a few foreign languages and is very keen to learn Mandarin while in China. She enjoys travelling and visiting botanical gardens all over the world, something her son has instilled in her. She enjoys buying art, antiques and furniture and is always looking for new markets and hidden shops with bargains!

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis

Head of Prep School
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Andrew Willis

Andrew was educated at the Universities of Sussex and Liverpool. In 1991, he began his teaching career in Kirkby on Merseyside before moving to the Channel Island of Jersey in 1995 and was appointed to his first headship in 2006. In 2012, he transferred to Samarès School with a mission to raise aspiration and standards of achievement in addition to building a strong community that gave effective support to families. As a result of this work, he was recognised with the 2016 Inspirational Leader of the Year Award.

As Head of the Prep School at Wellington Shanghai his priority has been to develop and improve the curriculum of the school so that it facilitates the very highest levels for learning for pupils. Andrew and his team are determined that the curriculum will be exciting, intriguing and inspiring and that it will prepare pupils fully for life as change-leaders in 21st century China and beyond.

Andrew is married to Janet, who teaches in year 2 at Wellington. They have two daughters, Lucy in year 12 and Rosie in year 9. Both girls were born in Jiangxi Province and were adopted at the age of 1. The family returned for one year to China to teach at an international school in Suzhou in 2009. They travelled extensively throughout this incredible nation, from Xinjiang and Tibet to Fujian and Yunnan. Shanghai was always a favourite destination and so they are delighted to be living in this amazing city.

Away from work, Andrew often enjoys nothing more than being talked to by his daughters. When he does have a break, he pursues his lifetime goal of sporting mediocrity and can be found in football C teams and slow-running clubs. He is well-known on the golf courses of Jersey for getting value for money by playing as much golf as possible per round.

Fiona James

Fiona James

Deputy Head of Prep School
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Fiona James

Fiona has joined Wellington College International Shanghai from Stowe School, an independent school in the UK. Fiona was a housemistress of a girls boarding house, looking after year 9-13 pupils. Fiona also taught mathematics across all age groups. She was widely involved in the extracurricular coaching of many of the school hockey teams. Prior to Stowe, Fiona taught mathematics at Wellington College UK as well as being an assistant housemistress, sports coach and becoming involved in the CCF program.

Before teaching, Fiona worked as an engineering consultant in the oil and gas industry working closely with many of the major operating companies. Before working as a consultant, Fiona served in the British Army as an engineering officer for a number of years, deploying all over the world.

Fiona was educated at Eastbourne College and the University of Nottingham where she read mechanical engineering. She completed her PCGE at Buckingham University.

Fiona is an active person who enjoys spending her time outdoors, playing sport and travelling. Along with her husband and twin boys, they are excited about the opportunities to travel and explore China.

Ben Blackwood

Ben Blackwood

Bursar (Finance, HR, IT)
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Ben Blackwood

Ben Blackwood moved to Wellington College Shanghai from Redland High School for Girls, a leading independent girl’s school in Bristol, where he has been the Bursar for eight years. Ben first became a bursar after completing a 26-year career as an officer in the British Army.

After completing his A-levels at Welbeck College, he chose to go to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, rather than university. On completion of his training he was commissioned in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and proceeded to serve in many parts of the world, including Germany, the Gulf, the Balkans and the Falkland Islands. One of the highlights of his career was being selected for training as an Ammunition Technical Officer, including bomb disposal. Towards the end of his service he completed a Master’s Degree in Engineering Business Management at the University of Warwick.

Ben has always been interested in most sports and was privileged to be selected to play hockey for the Ordnance Corps, as a goalkeeper. His main sport now is cycling and he has undertaken a number of challenging rides. He is married to Fiona and they have two children, Victoria and Thomas, who are also at Wellington.

Ben says of coming to Wellington: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the role of bursar, so much so that I always knew that if I ever left my current school, it would have to be to go somewhere very special. Wellington College, Shanghai, definitely meets that criteria and I was absolutely delighted to receive a phone call from David Cook one Saturday morning informing me that I was to be appointed as the first Bursar.

“When I retired from the army, I sought a new challenge in becoming a bursar. To some people these two roles may seem quite a contrast, but actually it is a well trodden path, as nearly one third of independent school bursars have served in the British armed forces. The title ‘bursar’ is synonymous with British independent schools and universities and derives from the mediaeval Latin bursarius, which means “keeper of the purse”. Whilst managing the school’s finances is a key function of the job, it encompasses so much more, including management of the estate and services to ensure a healthy and safe environment, the management of the administration, in fact providing the leadership for all of the non-teaching functions within the school. My aim has always been to lead an excellent team which provides all the support that the Master and his teachers require to provide an outstanding education to all our children. I believe the key to this is establishing good working relationships with everyone connected with the school, including staff, parents, governors and contractors to gain an understanding of what they really need.

“Part of my selection process included a visit to Wellington College UK and, on driving through the main gates, I was immediately aware that I was entering something very special. There is a great deal more to a school than its teachers, pupils, staff and buildings, vital thought they are. Great schools have a culture of excellence that has to be developed and shared by the whole community. I am very excited at having the opportunity to be part of the team that will be establishing the true ethos of Wellington at Shanghai and establish our school as the leading international school in China.”

Lydia Lim

Lydia Lim

Bursar (Facilities, Purchasing, Services)
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Lydia Lim

Lydia is the bursar of Wellington College Shanghai, responsible for overseeing operations, services and purchasing. Before joining us, she spent four years in the same capacity in Beijing City International School, which accommodates both foreign and Chinese pupils.

Lydia also has extensive experience in the accounting industry, where she was attached to several international firms, including Arthur Andersen and KPMG. During this time, she led various financial projects in real estate, resorts and service related industries, assurance and advisory business for multi-national organisations and public listed companies.

Lydia is a chartered accountant, a fellow member of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), an experienced member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She also completed an MBA from Oxford Brookes University.