Headteacher found dead with daughter, 7, and husband at home in school grounds
Former colleagues of a headteacher found dead at her home with her husband and daughter have paid tribute to their “dear friend”.
Emma Pattison, who was head at Croydon High School before she joined Epsom College in September last year, died on Sunday with her daughter Lettie, seven, and her husband George.
Surrey Police have not disclosed the cause of their deaths but said they are confident that no-one else was involved.
Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), of which Croydon High School is part, said: “We are immensely shocked and saddened by the news about the death of Emma Pattison, her daughter Lettie and her husband George.
“Our thoughts are with their family at this time, as well as everyone at Croydon High School, and Epsom College, which Emma joined as head in September 2022.
“Emma was a much loved and respected member of the GDST community, as well as a talented head and teacher and a dear friend to many of us.
“She touched the lives of all of us with her energy, wisdom and kindness during her six years as head of Croydon High School and the school will always bear the legacy of her inspiring leadership.
“We are taking time to support staff and students at Croydon High School as well as everyone in the GDST family, and their wellbeing will be our priority in the coming days.”
Mrs Pattison, 45, was found with her husband and daughter at their home in the grounds of independent school Epsom College in the early hours of Sunday.
Local MP Chris Grayling called the deaths “an appalling tragedy”, adding: “I know everyone locally will be shocked about what has happened.”
A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service confirmed that paramedics attended the home but would give no further information.
Epsom College said on Twitter that staff and pupils would pay their respects to their “wonderful head” Mrs Pattison on Monday.
The school said: “The shocking and tragic news has now reached many about the death of our head, Emma Pattison. The College community will be coming together today to process the news, grieve and pay our respects to a wonderful head.
“We will be in close contact with Surrey Police over the coming weeks and months. We hope everyone will respect the privacy of Emma’s family at this time and allow the College’s pupils, staff and wider community the time and space necessary to come to terms with this loss.”
Police said the family’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers, and that the three deaths have been reported to the coroner.
Surrey police and crime commissioner Lisa Townsend said there will be an increased police presence in the area in the coming days to provide reassurance.
She added: “I was shocked and saddened to learn of the awful incident at Epsom College at the weekend and I want to offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those who lost their lives.
“These events will no doubt have a profound and lasting impact on both the staff and students at the college and the wider local community. My heart goes out to all those affected by this terrible and tragic incident.”
Mrs Pattison became Epsom’s first female head in September 2022 after six years as headteacher of Croydon High School in south London.
Boarding students at the college pay more than £42,000 a year and its alumni include Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.
Dr Alastair Wells, chairman of the board of governors at Epsom College, said: “On behalf of everyone at Epsom College, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career.
“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.”
Epsom College won the top prize at the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2022, with judges calling it a “beacon of excellence”.
The school was also named the winner of the student wellbeing award at the October ceremony thanks to its “whole-school approach to mental health and the wellbeing of both its staff and pupils”.
More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853, and its acting head has been listed as Paul Williams.
A statement from HMC (The Heads’ Conference), which represents hundreds of leading private schools across the UK, said: “Everyone at HMC is devastated to hear of the awful news from Epsom College that we have lost Emma Pattison and her family.
“Our thoughts and prayers at this time are for Emma’s family and close friends as well as the Epsom College, Croydon High School and St John’s Leatherhead communities.”
Mrs Pattison’s husband George was a chartered accountant who was director of a management consultancy firm called Tanglewood 2016, according to Companies House.
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