Millfield Prep Pavilion named after Headmistress Shirley Shayler

Millfield Prep Schools pavilion has been named the ‘Shayler Pavilion’ as Headmistress Shirley Shayler retires after 11 years at the helm.

Shirley first stepped foot in Millfield as a trainee teacher some 30 years ago having travelled to Somerset from Ireland and her long and successful career led her to take on the headship of Millfield Prep School in 2010. She project managed the building of the pavilion, coming up with the inspired idea to shape it like a rugby ball, which was opened in Sept 2014 by former Millfield Prep pupil and England rugby player, Chris Robshaw. The space, with sweeping views across the campus, has been enjoyed by many pupils, staff and parents over the years. The new name was unveiled at a formal event attended by Millfield Governors, current and former colleagues.

Shirley began her career at Millfield teaching biology to A level and latterly introducing psychology at A level.  She had many other roles as a Housemistress, Senior Tutor in the Sixth Form, in charge of junior girls’ games, prefect team leader, introducing the Biology Symposium and single science. She was a first team hockey manager/coach, and slightly more surprisingly but very Millfield, she set up scuba diving, and was mistress in charge of parachuting and water skiing. 

Shirley said: “I feel very privileged to be the first appointed permanent female head and I hope I have been a role model for the children, especially the girls.

“I can hardly believe that my career began at Millfield more than 30 years ago.

“Working at Millfield is a way of life, in fact it becomes your life, and I am so thankful for all the opportunities that I have had and all the children I have met and helped steer along the way.”

On the best bit of her job Shirley says: “The children themselves, they keep you young and make you laugh…you never know what they are going to say.

“Watching the children achieve, be it zipping up their school coat for the first time, to them receiving their first certificates in assembly, to watching them play in their first ever match or concert, to seeing them play for their country, knowing what has gone on behind the scenes to get there.

“Millfield Prep is such an amazing and unique school.”

Shirley retires at the end of July. Gavin Horgan, Headmaster of Millfield, will take over the reins in the interim until Dan Thornburn joins Millfield Prep School as Headmaster in January 2022.

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