Head of £42,000-a-year Epsom College found dead with husband and daughter described as 'wonderful' by school

5 February 2023, 22:02 | Updated: 6 February 2023, 10:27

Pattison poses with husband George and daughter Lettie
Pattison poses with husband George and daughter Lettie. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

The death of a headteacher, whose body was found on school grounds alongside her husband and seven-year-old daughter, has been described as "shocking" and "tragic" by the private school she taught at.

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Emma Pattison, 45, her husband George, 39, and their daughter were discovered at 1:10am on Sunday at a property in the grounds of Epsom College.

Surrey Police said they are "confident" the incident was isolated and that there was "no third-party involvement" after they were called to the prestigious private school in Surrey by the local ambulance service.

It comes as the head described the way in which family life had undergone "a lot of change" in recent months on a podcast released just before Christmas.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Epsom College described the headteacher as "wonderful", noting the college would come together on Monday to "process the news".

The 950-pupil, £42,000-a-year school was named Independent School of the Year in 2022.

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The college added: "there is nothing more that we can say regarding the circumstances around Mrs Pattison and her family's death".

They also noted they are working closely with Surrey Police and hoped the public would "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".

It follows a podcast recorded in December by the headteacher, in which she recounts: "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."

Ms Pattison, who recorded the podcast four months after taking up the role at the prestigious school, also appeared hopeful as she described her wish to "grow, learn, explore and live life to the fullest".

Pattison became the 14th Head of Epsom College last autumn
Pattison became the 14th Head of Epsom College last autumn. Picture: Twitter

It follows comments from Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey, who 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.”

Ms Pattison became Epsom's first female head just five months ago, having worked for six years as head teacher of Croydon High School in south London.

Epsom and Ewell Borough Commander Inspector Jon Vale 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.

The tragic incident took place on school grounds
The tragic incident took place on school grounds. Picture: Alamy

"I would like to thank the school and the community for their understanding and patience while the investigation continues.”

Head governor Dr Alastair Wells also said: “On behalf of everyone at Epsom College, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news.

Dr Wells added: "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.

The school website states that it was named Independent School of the Year
The school website states that it was named Independent School of the Year. Picture: Epsom College

"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.”

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