A new Head has been appointed at Old Palace of John Whitgift School, a leading independent girls’ prep and secondary school with a co-educational nursery in Croydon.

Mrs Jane Burton is set to take up her new appointment at Old Palace, part of The Whitgift Foundation, from 1 September 2019 following a rigorous recruitment and interview process where Mrs Burton was selected from a field of outstanding candidates due to her significant strategic, leadership and collaborative experience within the girls’ education sector.

She will succeed Mrs Carol Jewell who has been pivotal in maintaining exemplary educational standards in all areas of school life during her 22 years of service. 

The announcement comes as Old Palace was rated in the top 30 independent schools in London in the Sunday Times Parent Power Schools Guide 2019. 

Mrs Burton brings with her extensive expertise as former Head of Wallington High School for Girls, Deputy Head at Nonsuch High School for Girls and most recently as Chief Executive of the Girls’ Learning Trust (GLT) where she spearheaded the strategic development of the UK’s first all-girls multi-academy trust. 

She was responsible for successfully developing and growing the GLT to merge two competing girls’ grammar schools, Wallington High School for Girls and Nonsuch High School for Girls, and most recently Carshalton High School for Girls, providing strategic support to Heads, refining governance structures and aligning systems and procedures across all three schools.

As a strong advocate for girls’ education, she is deeply motivated by the opportunity to raise the School’s profile across London and the South East, and ultimately, continuing to ensure that students leave school as confident, courageous and resilient young women who are well prepared for the rigours of the 21stcentury. 

Old Palace is one of the oldest buildings in central Croydon dating back to the 12thcentury and has played host to Royalty including Elizabeth I and many Archbishops of Canterbury over the centuries.

Christopher Houlding, Chairman, The Whitgift Foundation, said: “As Governors, we were totally committed to ensuring that we appointed someone who genuinely identified with Old Palace’s highly regarded traditions, ethos and academic rigour. We believe that Mrs Burton has the expertise, passion and commitment to build on the outstanding work of Mrs Jewell and continue the School’s journey as a leader in modern girls’ education. With Croydon set for imminent redevelopment and regeneration, this is an immensely exciting time in the history and future of the school.”

On her appointment, Mrs Burton said: “I am thrilled to be appointed to this role. Old Palace is an excellent school with a very exciting future and I am honoured that I will be leading the school through the next stage of its history.” 


For further information, please contact Catherine Shirley, Head of Marketing and Communications on 020 8256 1579 or email:

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Notes to editors 

About Old Palace of John Whitgift School

At one of London’s most ancient sites of thinking and learning, dating back to 896AD, stands Old Palace of John Whitgift School. Known previously as Croydon Palace, and a former residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the site has Croydon Minster as its neighbour.  The main building of the School is steeped in history as the footsteps of Kings and Queens have graced its corridors. 

Girls and boys are educated together from the ages of one to four years at the Nursery and Pre School, whilst girls aged four to 18 are educated at Preparatory and Seniors. The School encourages its pupils to develop and flourish in ways beyond the reach of a conventional education. For example, not every girls’ school in the country can boast the opportunity to sing cathedral repertoire every week just next door in Croydon Minster.

At Old Palace, education means more than excellent academic results. The School offers a unique and broad education within a rigorous framework of The Four Pillars, embracing service, courage, knowledge and emotional intelligence.

Students join with other young mathematicians in the community to enjoy inter-school challenges at Preparatory and STEP Mathematics classes at Seniors, The School offers gold standard UCAS, Oxbridge, Lawprep, MedPrep and Engineering Prep together with a wealth of exciting cultural and sporting opportunities. Music is inclusive and there are strong links between Old Palace and the Croydon Minster Choir. Pupils perform at Glyndebourne as well as The English National Opera. 

Students are provided with opportunities to give something back to the local community. Whether it is at home or abroad, pupils leave Old Palace with a strong sense of social responsibility. 

About The Whitgift Foundation 

The Whitgift Foundation is a registered charity with the aim of providing education for the young and care for the elderly in Croydon and the surrounding areas. 

Established in 1596 by the former Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift, The Whitgift Foundation comprises of:

  • Three schools – Old Palace of John Whitgift (co-ed nursery and girls 4-18), Trinity School (boys 10-16 with a co-educational sixth form) and Whitgift School (boys 10-18 with boarding provision for boys 13-16).
  • Whitgift Care – three care homes, Whitgift House, Wilhelmina House and the Whitgift Almshouses offering a range of care provision including sheltered accommodation, full nursing care, residential care, respite and day care.
  • The Carers’ Information Service – provides free information, support, advice and training to an estimated 34,000 carers in Croydon and manages the Carers Support Centre, 24 George Street.

The Whitgift Foundation currently supports approximately 47% of current pupils in its schools through financial assistance in the form of bursaries and scholarships.  This equates to just over £5million a year to enable talented young people to benefit from the outstanding education provided by the schools.