The Houses

The House System

The House system has been fully developed throughout the School and is arguably the most distinctive characteristic of Harrow in Hong Kong. It is central to the sense of community and atmosphere in the School and the ‘vertical’ pastoral structure (where pupils of different ages are grouped together as they are in our Prep and Senior Houses) is an essential element of the House system, providing numerous leadership opportunities.

Nurtured by the commitment and collective experience of the House Masters and House Mistresses and their teams of Tutors, Harrow pupils have quickly embraced the benefits of the House unit and it is not an exaggeration that the impacts on personal development can sometimes be life changing. Our Houses have effectively become family units with responsibilities falling to older pupils to care for and support younger pupils. Almost invariably, pupils rise to the occasion when given the opportunity to shoulder such responsibility and this enhances their leadership qualities. For boarders, the daily challenge of living with other people offers the ideal opportunity to learn about one’s self, to forge relationships with others and to develop the intricacies of human interaction. We have quickly seen the development of close-knit House communities characterised by strong bonds and support networks within each House as well as loyalty to it. When it comes to the numerous competitions between the Houses that are taking place in a growing range of activities, it finds expression in a healthy competitive spirit.

It is, therefore, the House Master or House Mistress who is best placed to provide parents with updates about how their child is doing academically, in their extra-curricular pursuits and in terms of their personal development. House Masters and House Mistresses are allocated a significant amount of time to discharge their responsibilities to the welfare of their pupils, which means that the focus on each individual is strong. Whether your child is a day pupil or boarder, the first port of call for communication should be the House Master or House Mistress whose job it is to be in loco parentis for each child in their House, day or night.

The House Pastoral Team

All teachers in the Upper School, however, have a role as a Tutor in one of the Houses as part of the broader House Pastoral Team that supports the House Master or House Mistress in their role. All Tutors play a role in the supervision and running of the House during the course of a week (including eating meals with boarders and day pupils, helping with running Evening Prep and activities, and helping to facilitate House discussion meetings) and one of them is a Resident House Tutor, who will deputise in the absence of the House Master or House Mistress.

The role of the House Pastoral Team is to provide additional and supportive mentoring to pupils on their overall academic progress (with a particular focus on their organisational skills, overall engagement with the learning process across different subjects, and target setting), their involvement in the extra-curricular programme and observations on their personal development. The Tutor’s time for this role is limited given their primary role as a Subject Teacher or Head of Department in the academic part of the School. However, through close communication with the House Master or House Mistress over their interactions with their Tutees, including a one-to-one meeting each week, they provide part of a wider ‘safety net’ to provide the strong pastoral care that we know also helps to ensure pupils’ academic potential is reached.

Whilst keeping accurate records and ensuring the smooth running of the House is an essential element of the role, much of what a House Master or House Mistress does is unquantifiable. It is about building strong relationships with each of the pupils in their care, spending time with them and guiding them through the challenges they face in these important years. They aim to develop a House environment that inspires a love of learning; encourages independence of thought; insists on good manners and gets pupils to appreciate the positive effect that their actions can have on others. It almost goes without saying that the role involves a huge time input, which is all-encompassing from Sunday evening to Friday evening for day pupils and weekly boarders.

Boys' Houses


Mr. Simon J. Mildinhall
Prep School House Master and Teacher of History

Mr Mildinhall grew up in the East of England, spending his formative years in Essex, before moving on to read History at the University of York.

Upon graduating, he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, joining The Queen’s Dragoon Guards as a commissioned officer. After nearly eight years in the British Army, including two operational tours of Afghanistan, Simon made the move into teaching. Since embarking on this new chapter of his life, he has taught History and Politics at a London comprehensive and coached rugby as well as running the School’s CCF, before moving to Harrow Hong Kong last year to take over the reins of Banks House.

Mr Mildinhall enjoys the great outdoors and loves to travel; taking every opportunity to explore Asia. Mr Mildinhall is a keen cyclist, a reasonable sportsman (numbering football, basketball, squash, and rugby amongst his favourites), and remains a hopeless guitar player.


Mr. Edward C. Nightingale
Senior School House Master and Teacher of English

Mr. Nightingale grew up in Hong Kong, attending Kellett and Peak Schools at primary level. He was subsequently educated at Port Regis Prep School in Dorset, followed by Eton College in Berkshire. He then read English Literature at Cambridge University.

After graduating, he worked in London as a management consultant for a few years before studying for his Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the Institute of Education, London University. He then taught for four years in a London comprehensive before moving to Beijing as Head of Sixth Form at Dulwich College, where he coached tennis, led the Model United Nations programme and oversaw university applications.

Mr. Nightingale's wife, Bella, is Assistant Head (Academic) at Harrow Hong Kong and their sons attend the Harrow Early Years Centre.


Mr. Tim Leverton-Griffiths
Prep School House Master and Teacher of Mathematics

Mr. Leverton-Griffiths grew up in Gloucestershire, England. Being a former member of Mensa, a sports coach and a professional cricketer, he decided that the teaching profession would suit him best; specialising in Science and Sports in his Bachelor of Education Degree at the University of Gloucestershire.

Before deciding that international schools were his future, he spent his formative teaching years in traditional English Prep Schools including Kelly College and Truro Prep School, leading Maths, Science, Sport, and child mentoring. Prior to joining Harrow Hong Kong, he was at Repton School, Dubia, for four years where he was Head of Year 6 and taught Mathematics, Science, cricket, and football.


Mr. Darren Barker
Senior School House Master, Teacher of History and Teacher of Philosophy & Religious Studies

Darren BarkerMr. Barker was awarded his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Alberta, before moving to McGill University in Montreal where he completed his Bachelor of Education in Secondary History and Geography. Upon moving to London, England, he completed his Master of Arts at Brunel University. His ethos of lifelong learning has led to continued engagement in postgraduate education, including SENCo qualification with the Institute of Education.

Mr. Barker has spent the majority of his teaching career at schools in London including Drayton Manor High School, Cranford Community College and Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls as both a Head of Department and Head of Year. Along with teaching in London, he has taught at Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina and Forest Lawn High School in Alberta. His love of travel and history stem from his upbringing in a military officer’s family. In addition to being fully committed to a teaching career, he has been a very successful basketball coach winning multiple league titles and a national title.

Mr. Barker is married to Mrs. Georgia Barker, Teacher of Biology, and they have three children, all of whom attend the School.


Mr. Michael W. Strickland
Prep School House Master and Teacher of History

Mr. Michael StricklandMr. Strickland is a graduate in History from the University of Exeter in England, where he also completed a Master's degree focusing on Early Modern and Medieval Studies. Before moving to Hong Kong, he taught at Norwich Cathedral School where he was Master in Charge of Hockey, and then later, Head of History.

Mr. Strickland is a very keen sportsman. Having played first team hockey, cricket and rugby at school, it was hockey he decided to pursue at university, club and representative level. Since becoming a teacher, he has fulfilled numerous coaching roles and has led hockey and cricket tours to the Netherlands, Malaysia, and South Africa. He now prefers to play golf and tennis with his family in his spare time, and, as a keen skier, runs the snow sports trip here at the School.

During a successful game of beach cricket, Mr. Strickland met his wife Caroline on the Norfolk coast. Mrs. Strickland shares her husband's passion for education and adventure. She writes for Master Investor Magazine and the SCMP, and sits on the board of the Hong Kong Royal Geographical Society. Mr. and Mrs. Strickland have a young son, Harding.


Mr. Robert T. Powell
Senior School Day House Master and Teacher of Chemistry

Mr. Robert PowellMr. Powell studied his Masters in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, with a year of research in organic Chemistry, before completing his teacher training at the University of Manchester. Since then, he has worked at the King David High School, Manchester as a form tutor in both Year 7 and Year 12, before being appointed Head of Year 9. During that role, he was inspired by the challenges and variety of pastoral work in schools and valued the positive and productive relationships formed between pupils, staff and parents.

Mr. Powell has shown an interest in travel as a way of learning about new cultures and customs. Some of the highlights of his professional life involved leading Year 9 on a trip to Israel for nine days in 2016, and accompanying Year 12 on a trip to Poland.

Mr. Powell joined Harrow Hong Kong in 2016 and was immediately enthused by the rich and varied opportunities offered by the School and Hong Kong. As part of the Banks House Pastoral Team, he has enjoyed working with the pupils, particularly supporting the House with their Drama and Music performances. Living in Hong Kong has enabled him to further pursue interests such as hiking, swimming, travel and international food.


Mr. Oliver H. Lloyd
Senior School House Master and Teacher of History

Mr. Oliver LloydAfter a brief career in the business world, including a stint at BBC Worldwide, Mr. Lloyd became a History teacher. Before taking up his post as a House Master at Harrow Hong Kong in August 2013, he was a House Master in England for eight years and is experienced in the pastoral care of teenagers.

In addition to this, his own happy education at The Dragon School and Radley College in Oxford, has given him a good understanding of life in a boarding school. At University College London, his academic interests focused on the history and archaeology of the Middle East; this saw him excavating sites in the UAE and the Yemen. His current historical interests are in 'The Great Game' and Early Modern Europe.

He is a keen sportsman and, in his youth, played hockey and rugby at a respectable level. Beyond family life, his passion lies in travel and he has set up, and runs, a house building charity in Kerala, South India.

Girls' Houses


Mrs Christine A. Duffner
Prep School House Mistress and Teacher of Music

Ms. Christine DuffnerA move from the wilds of rural Cumbria to being a Music Scholar in Scotland’s capital gave Mrs. Duffner a taste for more exotic locations, which she has retained all her life, so she is delighted to be at Harrow Hong Kong. 

From an early age, she was passionate about music and ballet, going on to do a degree in Music and finally to become a Music teacher, which she does with the same huge enthusiasm and passion she has always had. 

Her ability to pick up new languages and appreciate new cultures has quickly stood her in good stead in her international posts and an interest in supporting those less fortunate is important to her.

Her own enjoyable experience of boarding at Sixth Form level led her to take up a boarding post in the UK when she started her teaching career. From there, her interest in foreign cultures led her to both boarding and day school posts in Hong Kong, Kuwait and South Korea, before returning to her beloved Hong Kong to take up her present post at Harrow.


Miss Samantha J. Ward
Senior School House Mistress and Teacher of Philosophy & Religious Studies

Ms. Samantha WardMiss Ward joined Harrow Hong Kong in August 2015. Having studied Religious Studies at University of Lancaster, she went on to teach Philosophy, Ethics and Religion as well as Sociology.

Her previous role was as a Personal Tutor at a large Sixth Form college in Nottingham, with responsibilities for the academic progress and wellbeing of up to 200 pupils.

As well as being an avid reader, she also has a love of travel, which was first inspired by a trip to India to complete research for her dissertation. She enjoys experiencing new cultures and religious practices and has enjoyed seeing some of what Hong Kong (and beyond) has to offer.


Mrs Lotje Smith
Senior School House Mistress and Teacher of Chemistry

Mrs. Lotje SmithMrs. Smith started her career as a chemist in 1989 in South Africa. She moved to the UK in 2001 and remained there until 2014 when she left Harrow School UK to join Harrow International School Hong Kong.

She believes in lifelong learning and completed BSc. (Chemistry), BEd. (Educational Management) and MSc. (Oxford) degrees. She has held the positions of Teacher of Chemistry, Master of Chemistry, Head of Chemistry, Head of Science, Prep School House Mistress and Senior School House Mistress.

She is committed to a holistic approach regarding the development of children and therefore took the role as PSHE coordinator, Duke of Edinburgh coordinator, World Challenge Expedition leader, Master in charge of Charity Projects Abroad, Master in Charge of Socials as well as Master in charge of Badminton. She has been in the position as House Mistress of Keller House since 2015.


Mrs Chemane E. Fairleigh
Prep School House Mistress and Teacher of Physical Education

Mrs. Chemane FairleighMrs. Fairleigh completed her initial teacher training in 2001 and graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a BA (Hons) with Qualified Teacher Status in Secondary Education, specialising in Physical Education and Life Science. 

Over the past 16 years, she has worked in educational establishments in England, Australia and Hong Kong and has occupied the roles of Form Tutor, Head of House, Head of Year and a Visiting Tutor at the School.   

Prior to joining the School, Mrs. Fairleigh worked in Queensland, Australia, where she completed a Master of Social Work degree. In addition to teaching part time, she also gained employment as a Residential Youth Worker. 

As her pastoral experience expands past the traditional classroom and educational setting, it has enabled her to better understand human relationships, behavioural psychology and forced her to assess and evaluate her own worldview from a number of perspectives. 


Mrs Helen Cowie
Prep School House Mistress and Teacher of Psychology

Mrs. Cowie is very excited to be starting her new role as House Mistress of Parks House. She attended Bedales School as a boarder and is looking forward to returning some of the high quality pastoral care that she received as a young girl.


Being a House Mistress brings together her passion for pastoral and strong organisational skills, which she has previously employed in her roles as Head of Year and House Coordinator. In addition, she has spent time working as a counsellor, Drama coach, Oxbridge mentor and UCAS Coordinator and feels that these skills will also help her to maintain a happy and productive

House environment. She is passionate about helping to guide young people to achieve their full potential, and believes in the holistic framework of education.

Mrs. Cowie has an honours degree in English Literature and Drama, and, after gaining her PGCE from Goldsmiths College, London, she began her career in the primary sector, working at Barrow Hill School in St. John’s Wood, London. After further study, where she gained a First Class Honours degree in Psychology, she returned to the educational arena. She has spent the last twelve years teaching A-Level Psychology at a variety of independent schools in Surrey, England,

including City of London Freemen’s, Dunottar School and Surbiton High School. In addition, Mrs. Cowie and her husband, Tim, spent time in Australia where she taught Psychology at Camberwell Anglian Girls School in Melbourne. She has a love of Drama and Literature and is a keen photographer. 

Mr. and Mrs. Cowie have a young son who will be starting in Year 2. All three are excited about joining Harrow Hong Kong and welcoming the girls to Parks House.


Ms Lee S. Collins
Senior School Day House Mistress and Teacher of English and Drama

Ms. Lee CollinsAfter finishing her studies at the University of Sydney, Ms. Collins worked in schools in London and Cairo and travelled extensively around Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Having spent most of her teaching career in an international setting, Ms. Collins is energised by environments where there is a rich diversity of backgrounds and cultures; this is something that she particularly values about living and working in Hong Kong.

Ms. Collins joined Harrow Hong Kong in August 2014 as an English and Drama teacher and has directed many of the School’s productions. She feels extremely privileged to teach and work with the School’s creative and imaginative young people both inside and outside the classroom. While passionate about English and Drama, she strongly believes that education should foster young people’s natural desire for adventure, fun and collaboration, and that schools should balance high expectations with supportive structures. As such, she is excited about the opportunity to develop the vibrant and thriving community that has already been established in Wu House. Ms. Collins brings to the role six years of pastoral expertise as Head of Key Stage 3 at her previous school, as well as a thorough understanding of the House system at Harrow Hong Kong from her experience as a Tutor in Gellhorn House.

Passionate about theatre and literature, Ms. Collins enjoys creating and watching performance based theatre and is an avid reader and writer. She also loves hiking, camping and travel.


Ms Kim Gration
Senior School House Mistress and Individual Needs Teacher

Ms. Gration grew up in Gosport on the south coast
of the UK, and attended Bay House School before
completing a pre-professional Music course at
South Downs College. She studied Music at Oxford
University, Magdalen and followed this up with a
PGCE in Southampton. After four years of teaching in
Portsmouth, Ms. Gration taught in Finland for seven years where
sledging, skating and skiing were new challenges in
the Sports curriculum. During her time in Finland, she
also had a year as a ‘Finnish’ Fulbright Scholar, teaching
at the UN School in New York before moving to the
Bahamas for some warmer weather and beautiful, clear
waters! After four years of island life, she then moved
to West Africa, to Luanda International School, Angola,
for seven years where she was first a Music teacher and
then an IB Curriculum Coordinator.
Ms. Gration moved to Harrow Hong Kong with her two
children in 2015 as the Whole School Individual Needs
Coordinator and is now the founding House Mistress of Anderson House.