Heads of Schools
Ms Fiona Cottam
Head of Senior School and Deputy Principal
Fiona is the Head of Senior School and Deputy Principal, appointed in 2018. Fiona comes to us with several years of senior leadership experience. This includes roles as Associate and Acting Principal at Botany Downs Secondary College and Deputy Principal at Epsom Girls Grammar School for eight years.
During a practicum at St Cuthbert’s in 1989 Fiona was quickly spotted as a talented History and English teacher and was appointed in 1990. Fiona left St Cuthbert’s in 1995 to become the first full-time female classroom teacher at Auckland Grammar School, then went on to teach at Diocesan School for Girls where she was a Dean and Acting Head of Senior School. From there she broadened her teaching experience at Sacred Heart College and Epsom Girls Grammar. Fiona also did a stint teaching the Communications trainers for the New Zealand Police after the disappearance of Iraena Asher in 2004.
With broad experience in co-ed, single sex, state and independent schools, Fiona is well versed in all sectors and is passionate about educating girls. She believes that for girls to learn to the best of their ability, they must feel comfortable to test themselves in an environment that nurtures them and encourages challenge. Fiona’s interest in girls’ education as a precursor to women‘s leadership is evident in her participation as a foundational member of the committee for Women In Educational Leadership in New Zealand.
Fiona also believes that the continuous development of teachers through the constant review of what and how we teach, is essential to the ongoing improvement of outcomes for students.
Fiona loves baroque music and is an inaugural member of the Advisory Board for NZ Barok, New Zealand’s authentic baroque orchestra. Fiona is an active member of Auckland Land Search and Rescue. She is quite comfortable dangling from a helicopter, crawling through dense bush or searching suburban sections in the hope of bringing the lost person home to their family. Fiona is married to Kerry Atkinson, with a large family spanning four generations.
Ms Margaret Talbot
Head of Middle School
Margaret was Assistant Principal of the Junior School from 2005, before being appointed as the Head of the Middle School in 2012.
Her responsibilities include leading and developing curriculum, reporting and assessment, staff professional development, budgeting, developing education outside the classroom programmes, and staffing in the Middle School. Together with Assistant Head, Deborah Lean, Margaret also oversees the Middle School pastoral network, recognising the complexities and overlap of the pastoral and curriculum roles in the Middle School.
Prior to starting at St Cuthbert’s, Margaret was the Head of Mathematics and ICT at Ponsonby Intermediate. She came into teaching after many years in the workforce with roles at Housing New Zealand, K-Mart, LWR, the University of Auckland and the Department of Justice. Whilst working for Bass Charrington in London she completed her Higher National Certificate in Business and Finance at Hammersmith and West London College.
In her free time Margaret is a keen (but fair weather) cyclist, tennis player and wave skier. Margaret has a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Philosophy (Management and Employment Relations), Post Graduate Diploma in Computing and a Diploma in Primary Teaching.
Julie Gifkins was appointed Head of Junior School in April 2013 and quickly put into action her strategic plan to develop a culture for innovation in teaching and learning, in order to build a community of learners, and to lead and develop curriculum and assessment delivery. She has implemented a new programme of student leadership opportunities in 2014, giving girls at all levels of the Junior School the opportunity to lead.
Previously Julie has led the development of the specialist Lighthouse facility at King’s School. She was Deputy Principal at both St. Joseph’s Primary, Hamilton and Cockle Bay School, Auckland.
Julie was awarded Distinction for her Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership from the University of Waikato. She also has a Bachelor of Teaching and a Diploma in Education.
Julie has a daughter, Grace, who is currently studying International Business and Law at AUT. Her son Michael attends King’s College.
She enjoys travel, dance, learning to play golf, and spending quality time with family and friends.