Dr Ralph Douglas Townsend is Headmaster of Winchester College. He was previously Headmaster of Oundle School and before that Headmaster of Sydney Grammar School. He was educated at Scotch College, Perth, from which he went on to read English at the University of Western Australia, having won a Commonwealth Scholarship. He then began his graduate studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. After brief teaching appointments at Dover College and Abingdon School, he proceeded to further study at Oxford. He was first Senior Scholar at Keble College, then a Junior Research Fellow, Tutor and Dean of Degrees at Lincoln College. He taught in the Theology Faculty at Oxford.
Dr Townsend took up a teaching post at Eton College in 1985. He left as Head of English in 1989 to become Headmaster of Sydney Grammar School. While in Sydney, Dr Townsend was Patron of the Australian Musicians' Academy and President of the New South Wales Classical Association. After ten years in that post, he returned to England to become Headmaster of Oundle School. In 2005 he was appointed Headmaster of Winchester.
Dr Townsend has written books, articles and reviews in the areas of church history, religious literature and education. He has been a Governor of Terra Nova School (Cheshire) 1999-2003, Old Buckenham Hall School (Suffolk) 1999-2006, Ardvreck School (Crieff, Scotland) 2000-2005, Ampleforth College (Yorkshire) 2003-2006, Bramcote Lorne School (Nottinghamshire) 2003-2005, Mowden Hall School (Northumberland) 2000-2007 and Worth School (Sussex) 2004-2010. He was a Trustee of the United Church Schools Trust and an Adviser to the United Learning Trust 2005-2011. He is currently a member of the Court of the University of Southampton, a Governor of Midhurst Rother College, The Pilgrims' School (Winchester), St Swithun's School (Winchester) and St John's School Beaumont (Windsor). He is a Trustee of the Cothill Educational Trust, an Adviser to the African Leadership Academy, the Raffles Institution of Singapore, and the National College of Music (London). He is a Director of the Creative Education Academies Trust and a Director of the Education Schools Trust.
In 2010 he became Dean of a group of ten schools known as the Winchester International Symposium, each of which has agreed to meet annually in each of the schools in rotation, when senior pupils and staff will study an aspect of global development; the member schools are African Leadership Academy (South Africa), Colegio Claustro Moderno (Colombia), Garodia International Centre for Learning (India), Johannes Kepler Grammar School (Czech Republic), Karachi Grammar School (Pakistan), Montgomery Bell Academy (USA), Nada High School (Japan), Raffles Institution (Singapore), Shiyan Co-operation High School (China) and Winchester College (UK). In July 2012 he addressed the Symposium on the Future of Higher Education in Shanghai, and in October 2012 he delivered the lecture at the inaugural meeting of the London Chapter of the Friends of the African Leadership Academy at University College London.
He is a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and an Honorary Liveryman of the Grocers' Company. He is married to Cathy and they have two adult children.View the fifty-eight Headmasters of Winchester »