Senior School provides me with the structure to achieve success, whilst having the atmosphere, support and enjoyment of a family.
Jak U6th

Because of the three school structure staff are able to focus on their specialist age groups. The Senior School Boarding House offers the ideal environment to study and develop over two vitally important educational years. Life-long friendships are formed within the community, through a sharing in the academic achievements and challenges along the way, and in the many extra-curricular and socially-engaging activities which boarders have ease of access to. As a working environment, boarding in the Senior School has an enormous amount to offer. Accommodating only sixth formers, a mature and purposeful atmosphere is a key characteristic. The convenience of boarding enables students to find more time for study and take advantage of much wider access to all of the resources and facilities Denstone offers. Every boarder has their own personal workspace within their room, along with access to a number of spaces for communal working. They can make use of the College’s IT suites during prep time, along with a good number of machines and printers within Senior School itself. 

Our key aims involve balance – a balance between a place of academic drive and a relaxing home; a balance between structure, supervision and support and freedom and independence. The boarding house is therefore well-equipped with a number of homely and social comforts. Highlights include a boarders’ only common room with connected and well-equipped kitchen, Sky TV and games facilities at the heart of the house; Upper Sixth rooms on the first floor are designed with a mezzanine work-space and ensuite bathrooms; the bar/bistro is home to the Senior School Club which plays host to regular social events such as wine-tasting and open-mic nights. The opportunity to live and study away from home in a communal environment, whilst still well supported by a team of dedicated tutors, offers superb preparation for university. Mr Andy Wray, Head of Sixth Form and a tutor in Senior School, is specifically responsible for running the university and careers programme. 

On a wider basis Senior School is a central meeting and work place for all Senior School pupils, having one of its two common rooms and the bistro area available to all throughout the day. It is located in the north wing of the main building, in close proximity to other important areas for sixth formers – including the Sixth Form Centre and study cloisters. 

The following are some quotes from senior school boarders:

Boarding gives you that good mixture of structure but freedom as you grow older…The Senior School tutors are easy-going and offer guidance when needed… I would recommend it to anyone.
Ross, U6th
Boarding allows you to be the person you want to be when you want…If you return home and feel an emptiness and boredom not felt at school, you know you miss it. That’s how I feel.
Pete, U6th
The thing which made the greatest impression on me was the freedom…Boarding is the perfect balance between having time to get on with the A-Level workload and having time to sit back and watch TV, play pool or just chat with friends…
Ben, U6th

The boarding community in senior school is a diverse place with pupils hailing from as far as China and as close as Denstone village.

The Head of Senior School, Nic Horan, is resident onsite. Nic is also Head of the Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics department. He was born in Manchester, went to university and trained as a teacher in Lancaster, and took his first teaching post at King Edward VII and Queen Mary School, Lytham, so marks his move to the midlands as a “bold step away from a familiar north-western triangle”. He is married to Charlotte and has two children, Poppy and William, along with Indy the dog. He is a keen musician; playing both piano and organ, and has directed a number of musical productions, working with choirs and theatre companies. He enjoys a number of sports and is actively involved in the sporting life of the college. He is particularly passionate about golf, squash and road-biking.

Matthew Rankin is the Assistant Head of Senior School as well as the Assistant Head of the English Department. He is also a Heywood Sixth Form tutor. Having moved from Worcestershire to Durham for university, where he graduated with First Class honours in English Literature, he then began his teaching career in central Birmingham. After three eventful years, he felt the lure of travel and moved to China where he taught at Dulwich College Suzhou. Two years later, having met his future wife, Joanna, and with passable spoken Mandarin, he moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil to teach at St. Paul's School, and learn Portuguese! His son Rory was born in Brazil, which necessitated a move back to the Midlands to placate the grandparents. Since arriving at Denstone College, Bram, a brother for Rory, has joined the family. Mr Rankin is an outdoor enthusiast and is involved with the College's Duke of Edinburgh Award as an assessor and as a qualified indoor climbing instructor. He is also a keen sportsman and dusts off his boots as coach and referee whenever needed.

Chris Green was educated in Surrey and went on to study Geography at the University of Leeds. After graduating he entered the corporate sector on BP's Graduate Management scheme and continued to work in a variety of commercial roles in the energy industry for the next fifteen years, which included a move to Western Australia in 2012. Upon his return to the UK Chris decided to change his career and started at Denstone as a Geography teacher and Senior School tutor in 2017. He is heavily involved in Denstone's sporting life and is coaching the U14 rugby team while also supporting junior hockey and athletics. Chris lives with his wife, Zoe, and son, Joe, at the school. 

Matt Middleton was born and raised in Surrey. He attended Loughborough University where he studied for his BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and played rugby. Matt took a role at Bath Rugby as a Strength and Conditioning Coach where he held the position of Head Academy Strength and Conditioning Coach for 4 years before resigning to go and see the world.
After a season of camper vanning around the UK food show circuit for a family farm, he upped sticks and moved to Buenos Aires where he resumed his coaching in rugby and taught English as a foreign language. Matt then proceeded to travel his way around the globe jumping from hemisphere to hemisphere over the course of a year. Upon returning to the UK, Matt made the move to the Staffordshire Moorlands to take up the post of Head of Athletic Development at Denstone College in 2016. Since then, whilst continuing to lead the athletic development, he has also taken on the role of Head of Physical Education.


Miles Norris is Second Master (Internal) and a tutor in Senior School. Miles studied geography at Keble College, Oxford. He travelled extensively in East Africa and carried out research in the Solomon Islands. He began his teaching career at Denstone in 2002 before joining Haileybury in Hertfordshire becoming an Assistant Housemaster there. Miles married Ruth in 2008 before returning to Denstone as Head of Senior School. They have two daughters, Evie and Nuala, and neither child has inherited his cauliflower ears which attest to his love of rugby. Miles teaches geography, coaches rugby, hockey and cricket, is a member of the RAF section of the CCF and is Deputy Child Protection Officer. In his spare time he will take part in any sport going and has completed the Marathon des Sables despite being to running what Eddie the Eagle was to ski-jumping. In September 2018, on the retirement of David Derbyshire, Miles will become Headmaster of Denstone College.

Martin Raisbeck is another tutor in Senior School, again resident on site. After training as a Furniture Designer, Martin taught at Chigwell school in Essex before moving to Denstone in 1987 as Head of DT. He is part of the senior school team having previously been Housemaster of Selwyn for 15 years. Married to Lesley, they have three children all of whom have been educated at the College. Martin designed and developed the College’s 9 hole golf course, and created the very successful Golf Club. Martin continues to run golf at Denstone and is also in charge of football.

Andy Wray is a resident tutor in Senior School. Andy was educated at the University of Kent where he attained his degree in English and American Literature. In his twenties he worked in advertising agencies in London. He completed his PGCE at the University of Cambridge and joined Denstone in 2000. Having started as a teacher of English, Andy is now the Head of Sixth Form with responsibility for university and careers choices. In his spare time Andy follows Manchester United.

Charlotte Horan is a matron in Senior School.  She studied singing at the Welsh College of Music & Drama, before pursuing a career in human resources. During her time in HR, she worked within the engineering and health-care sectors. She moved to Denstone in 2012 when her husband, Nic, became Head of RS, Philosophy and Ethics, and soon found herself taking the opportunity of a career-change in becoming the Alumni Coordinator at the College. Following this she extended her role within the college in taking on her boarding position. Charlotte’s interests include travelling and reading, and she remains passionate about music. Charlotte and Nic have two children, Poppy and William.


To contact the Head of Senior School, please see the staff list: