Teacher Spotlight Series – Vanessa Conlan


Welcome to today’s instalment of our Teacher Spotlight Series. This week we meet another new member of the Downsend team, Vanessa Conlan, Head Teacher at Little Downsend Schools.

Do you remember how was your first day at Little Downsend?   

I started at Little Downsend Epsom officially in January 2017 but from the October half term I went into school one day a week to work alongside the current Headteacher and to get ready for the real start (I was on maternity leave just before I started)! Both of my ‘first days’ were brilliant. Young children just bring so much joy and energy to an environmentI remember thinking that I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work with children right at the beginning of their educational journey. 

What did you do before you joined Little Downsend?   

I qualified as a teacher in 1996 and became a Headteacher in January 2009 so my whole working life has been spent in education. My last Headship before joining Downsend was a large Primary School with a 114 place nursery in Mitcham, South West London.  

What’s your best memory from school?  

I have the most amazing memories of the residential trips I went on at school, particularly the outdoor and adventurous activity ones. I love being outside and active. 

If you could grow up in any decade, which would you choose?   

I honestly think I’d choose to grow up in the 90’s again. I had a marvellous time loving the music, avoiding the fashion and enjoying the opportunities available to young people in that decade. 

What are your “trapped on a desert island” books? And why?   

I love a good psychological thriller. The problem with them though is that you know the ending so they’re never as good the second time round! However, my guilty secret with books would be young adult fiction. I really could while away my days on a desert island quite happily reading books like the Maze runner, the Divergent series and Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. 

If you could pass on one piece of wisdom, what would you share?   

You can’t pour from an empty glass. Remember to look after and be kind to yourself. 

Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?  

‘Better to regret the things you have done than the things you haven’t’ 

A fun fact we might not know about you?   

I played rugby union for 20 years as a front row player. 




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