Police ‘seal off Epsom College rifle range’ after deaths of first female head, her husband and daughter, seven, in ‘isolated’ incident on school grounds – after she said ‘there’s been lots of change for us as a family’ in haunting last podcast
- Emma Pattison and her family experienced a ‘lot of change’ in recent months
- REPORT: Emma, George and their daughter Lottie were found dead yesterday
The Epsom College rifle range appears to have been cordoned off by police after headteacher Emma Pattison, her husband and their seven-year-old daughter were found dead at their house in the school grounds.
The bodies of Mrs Pattison, 45, husband George, 39, and Lettie were found by officers after they were called just after 1am yesterday. Surrey Police said it is believed the tragedy is an ‘isolated incident’ and there is ‘no third-party involvement.’ Their deaths have been reported to the coroner.
Forensics officers have been seen going into the family home and a blue tent has been set up nearby. The school’s rifle range – which is next to the property – had been cordoned off, a man at the scene told The Telegraph. .
In December – four months after becoming the prestigious school’s first female head teacher – Mrs Pattison told a pupil podcast her family was experiencing some ‘really big changes’ including taking new jobs, moving house and getting a new dog.
She said: ‘I’ve got a new job, my husband has got a new job, that wasn’t meant to happen but it did and my daughter has started a new school so there’s been a lot of change for us as a family.’ Mrs Pattison also spoke about her approach to life, saying she wanted to ‘grow, learn, explore and live life to the fullest’.
Emma Pattison, 45, was found dead along with her husband George, 39, and seven-year-old daughter Lettie after police were called yesterday. The family is pictured together
Surrey Police said it is believed the tragedy is an ‘isolated incident’ and there is ‘no third-party involvement’. The family home on the school grounds is seen at the top of this image
The rifle range is believed to be near the large green building at the top of this photo, just next to the family home
Epsom, which charges boarders up to £42,000 a year, was the 2022 Independent School of the Year and counts BBC presenter Jeremy Vine and BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell among its former pupils. Today it issued a statement calling Mrs Pattison’s death ‘shocking and tragic’.
In a pupil-presented podcast episode released just before Christmas, Mrs Pattison explained that she, George and Lettie were facing a lot of new change.
Epson College: One of UK’s top schools attended by Jeremy Vine
Epsom College, on Epsom Downs in Surrey, was founded in 1853 as a boy’s school for the children of poor members of the medical profession.
It is now an independent school for pupils aged 11 to 18, with a reputation for mixing academic excellence with sporting success and
The school charges boarders up to £42,000 a year and counts BBC presenter Jeremy Vine and BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell among its former pupils.
It was named Independent School of the Year in 2022, with judges calling it a ‘shining example of all that is best about independent education’.
The school has an offshoot in Malaysia which was officially opened in 2014 and provides a British-style education for pupils aged three to 18.
She explained that amid the new professional journeys she and her husband were facing, they also added a six-month-old Labrador called Bella to their family.
‘In terms of transition it’s been a really big change for my family. We’ve moved house – we’ve bought a dog,’ she told the Epsom Insight hosts.
‘I’ve got a new job, my husband has got a new job, that wasn’t meant to happen but it did and my daughter has started a new school so there’s been a lot of change for us as a family.’
George was a chartered accountant and the director of a management consultancy firm called Tanglewood 2016.
In the podcast, Mrs Pattison described how she got into teaching after flicking through a copy of the Times Educational Supplement at a coffee shop.
At the time she was on the graduate programme for Thomas Cook ‘ a job I absolutely hate’.
The head said she ‘hadn’t looked back’ since going into teaching, adding that ‘working with you people keeps you young, they keep you energised’.
Mrs Pattison said: ‘I am absolutely loving my time here so far. It’s been very busy but absolutely wonderful. The college have been so supportive and everyone has been very, very welcoming.’
She then spoke about her hobbies and how she liked learning. ‘There is something about being a lifelong learner,’ she said.
‘And if you’re a reader and a modern linguist who likes going and talking to people and exploring different versions of life I think that fits in with someone who always wants to grow, learn, explore and, I suppose, live life to the fullest.’
Police and a security guard at Epsom College today as investigations continue
The school flag was flying at half mask this morning
Mrs Pattison with her daughter, Lettie. The family lived in a house in the school grounds
Mrs Pattison appearing in the podcast in December, when she spoke of experiencing some ‘really big changes’ including taking new jobs, moving house and getting a new dog
Epsom College shared a post about the ‘shocking and tragic’ news of the headteacher’s death
In one of her final social media posts, written in October last year, Mrs Pattison celebrated the school’s recent accolades.
‘Wow! What an honour,’ she wrote. ‘We’re thrilled to be Independent School of the Year.’
Known as an elite rugby school, Epsom College teaches more than 850 boys and girls aged 11 to 18 and charges up to £42,000 a year for boarders.
Mrs Pattison took up her position in September last year, having spent more than six years in the same role at Croydon High School in south London.
The Pattison family lived at the head’s house on school grounds.
Mrs Pattison (pictured) became Epsom College’s first female head teacher in September last year
The Epsom College community appeared to value Mrs Pattison’s role at the school, alleging that she played a big role in the institution’s recent successes.
Sheena, a mother who only gave her first name, told BBC News: ‘In her time as head teacher, she turned the school around, and she did so many things that enriched the children’s lives.
‘She was slight but very formidable, she knew all of the pupils by name. She was exactly what you would want from a head teacher.’
The award-winning independent day and boarding school teaches over 850 boys and girls aged 11 to 18.
The private school was described as a ‘shining example of all that is best about independent education’ at the Boarding Schools Association in October.
Epsom won two awards, scooping the ‘Student Wellbeing’ award as well as the ‘Independent School of the Year’ prize.
Mrs Pattison described the win as ‘an incredible honour’ and added: ‘We put focus on time, space and heart and spirit to give all the young people in our care everything they need to become the best version of themselves – in the classroom, on the sports field and in any field of interest that lights that spark within them.
‘There is so much amazing work to be celebrated in the industry at the moment, so this is a real privilege to be named the best of the best. I am incredibly proud to be Head and we will display this award with real pride.’
Emma Pattison and her husband George (front row, right) pictured at a recent school event. The couple were found dead in the headteacher’s house at Epsom College
The school’s website was updated on Sunday night to list Paul Williams as Acting Headmaster following the death of Mrs Pattison
One of her final social media posts, written in October last year, celebrated the school’s recent accolades. Mrs Pattison (pictured in a photo included in the post) said: ‘Wow! What an honour. We’re thrilled to be Independent School of the Year’
In an interview last month, Mrs Pattison explained how she hoped to change the face of independent schools saying ‘exclusivity is a dirty word’ in an interview published a fortnight before her death.
She told Independent School Management Plus that private schools had to offer something different and be ‘part of the solution to some of the problems in society.’
‘If our pupils are going to lead in the world, let’s make sure that they really understand that world,’ she said. ‘They understand the structure of it, the problems, the issues and why things can’t just be fixed so easily.
‘The image of the exclusive private school has to be a thing of the past. Exclusivity is a dirty word nowadays. The independent schools’ sector has to offer something very different going forward, for its own pupils and the impact it could bring.
‘It could be time to shape a really exciting future for the country.’
Mrs Pattison wanted to open the school to allow diverse groups to come in and join particular classes and access a range of projects – rather than just offering bursary schemes.
Epsom College gave over 9,830 hours of community service in the last year, estimated to be worth over £141,000 in ‘social value.’
Mrs Pattison grew up on a farm in Lincoln, where she recalled feeding chickens at 6.30am as a part of everyday life. She attended the local girls’ grammar school.
Mrs Pattison had been headteacher of the £42,000-a-year school since the beginning of the current school year in September
Following news of Mrs Pattison’s death, Dr Alastair Wells, chair of the Board of Governors at Epsom College, said: ‘Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person. In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family.
‘But for now, we ask that we are all given the time, space and respect we need to come to terms with this tragic loss.’
The school website was updated yesterday evening and now lists Paul Williams as Acting Headmaster.
Shocked parents pay tribute to Epsom College’s first female headteacher, 45, after she is found dead: READ MORE HERE
In a statement last night, a police spokesperson confirmed the tragedy, saying: ‘In the early hours of Sunday morning, Surrey Police was contacted by the South East Coast Ambulance Service to attend a property in the grounds of Epsom College.
‘Officers attended at around 1.10am where they, sadly, found the bodies of three people, including a child.
‘We can confirm that the bodies found were Emma Pattison aged 45 years. Head of Epsom College, her daughter Lettie, aged seven years and her husband George aged 39 years.
‘The family’s next of kins have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
‘An investigation is being carried out to establish the circumstances of their deaths. At this stage, police are confident that this is an isolated incident with no third-party involvement.’
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said: ‘On behalf of Surrey Police, my team, and I, I first want to express my sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Emma, Lettie and George, as well as to the students and staff of Epsom College, for their tragic loss.
‘I want to give my assurance that we will conduct a thorough investigation into what took place last night and hope to be able to bring some peace in these traumatic circumstances. I would ask that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.’
Inspector Jon Vale, Epsom and Ewell’s Borough Commander, said: ‘We’re aware that this tragic incident will have caused concern and upset in the local community.
‘While this is believed to be an isolated incident, in the coming days, our local officers will remain in the area to offer reassurance to students, parents, teachers, and the local community. I would like to thank the school and the community for their understanding and patience while the investigation continues.’
The scene at Epsom last night, which police were called to just after 1am
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