Summary announcement: Dr Katy Ricks’ retirement and appointment of Mrs Kirsty von Malaisé as first Chief Master & Principal of KES and KEHS

Exploring sensory perception in art - Lower Sixth art trip
Dr Katy Ricks’ retirement and appointment of Mrs Kirsty von Malaisé as first Chief Master & Principal of KES and KEHS

The Independent Schools Governing Body, which governs King Edward’s School, Birmingham and King Edward VI High School for Girls has announced that Dr Katy Ricks, KES Chief Master, has decided to retire at the end of the 2023/24 school year after 22 years of headship and 39 years in education.

In a historic move, the roles of Chief Master of KES and Principal of KEHS are being fused to create a new role of Chief Master & Principal of both schools. ISGB has appointed Mrs Kirsty von Malaisé, KEHS Principal, to be Chief Master & Principal of KES and KEHS from September 2024. It will be the first time in the schools’ histories – KES founded 471 years ago and KEHS 140 years ago – that a joint headship appointment has been made. The future of the schools will see a further harmonisation of pupil and staff experience which has begun this year under the existing integrated leadership team, which brings together senior leaders from each school and some who work across both schools, building on the schools’ core strengths to offer the best education, within and beyond the curriculum. There are no plans to merge the schools into a single institution.

In 2019, Dr Ricks became the first woman to hold the post of KES Chief Master since the school’s founding in 1552, returning to where she had previously spent three years as an English teacher in the early part of her career.

Mrs von Malaisé joined KEHS as Principal in 2020, having been Head of Norwich High School, Deputy Head of Putney High School and at an earlier point holding a number of positions in co-educational state schools in London.

Lucy Williams, Chair of ISGB, said: “KES and KEHS are two of the country’s leading independent schools, and the fact that they exist within one Foundation – the King Edward VI Foundation, Birmingham – and on the same campus makes their position all the more unique. There has been a tremendous move towards collaboration in recent years, led by Katy and Kirsty who together have sought to unlock the many benefits that this offers to students and staff, while also recognising that KES and KEHS are two schools with established identities. We are looking ahead to a shared strategy for KES and KEHS, and there are a number of bold and strategically important projects underway that will contribute to this, including a masterplan for the shared campus, conversations around how we can drive forward our commitment to accessibility, and the development of the schools’ role in the wider Foundation. Given this strategic context, Governors agreed that the time was right to formalise collaboration through the appointment of a single Chief Master & Principal for both schools.”

Today’s full announcement is available here.

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