Epsom College head Emma Pattison found dead alongside daughter and husband

Gunshots were heard shortly before the bodies were found, according to reports

Emma Pattison, with her husband and daughter. Photo: John Wildgoose / Epsom College
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The head teacher of a top UK boarding school and her family have been found dead at a property on school grounds.

The bodies of Emma Pattison, 45, daughter Lettie, 7, and her husband George, 39, were found at their home at 1.10am on Sunday by police, who were called to Epsom College by the South-East Coast Ambulance Service.

A source told The Telegraph a member of school staff alerted emergency services after hearing gunshots in the early hours. The Pattisons' home is surrounded by properties occupied by people who work at the college, it said.

A spokesman for the ambulance service confirmed that paramedics attended the home but would give no further information.

Reports suggested officers on Monday cordoned off the college's rifle range, which is next to where the Pattisons lived.

The college does not keep live ammunition on site, according to The Telegraph, which said the school is considering shutting to day pupils early this week. It cannot close fully due to international borders.

Police cordon off the head teacher's house within the school grounds. Getty Images

Pupils attended a chapel service on Monday, it said.

A coroner's investigation has been opened but police said they were confident no one else was involved.

Officials at the independent school in Surrey, south-east England, which offers both day and boarding education for pupils age 11-18, have appealed for privacy as the investigation continues.

Mrs Pattison became Epsom's first female head in September after spending six years as head teacher of Croydon High, an all-girls' school in south London.

Her husband was a chartered accountant and director of a management consultancy firm called Tanglewood 2016, according to Companies House.

Families of boarding pupils at the college, the current Independent School of the Year, pay more than £42,000 a year.

Alumni include Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.

DCI Kimball Edey said: “I want to give my assurance that we will conduct a thorough investigation into what took place 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.”

Insp Jon Vale, Epsom and Ewell borough commander, said police believed there was no one else involved.

“In the coming days our local officers will remain in the area to offer reassurance to students, parents, teachers and the local community,” he said.

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

The school has asked for “time and space” to process “these shocking events”.

Dr Alastair Wells, chairman of the school's board of governors, 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 Pattison. Photo: John Wildgoose / Epsom College

“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 is working with the police in the investigation.

In a statement, it said it would now “focus on the welfare and well-being of our pupils and staff, and work to ensure that they receive all the comfort, warmth and support required from the Epsom College community”.

Speaking on behalf of Ms Pattison's former workplace Croydon High School, Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive, Girls' Day School Trust, 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."

Epsom College, a co-educational public school in Surrey where the bodies were found. Alamy

In an interview shared on Epsom College's website in January 2022, Ms Pattison said her career spanned independent, state and international schools and she was excited to start at the school.

"It’s an exciting time for a new head to take it on to the next phase of its journey," she wrote.

"The role at Epsom certainly has a wider scope. But when I took over at Croydon High, my daughter was a year and a half, she will be seven when I start at Epsom. So, it feels like a good time to take on a role of this nature. I feel ready for the challenge."

She told a pupil podcast in December, three months into her new role, that the family had been experiencing some "really big changes".

“I am absolutely loving my time here so far, it has been very very busy but absolutely wonderful. I have found tha the pupils are warm friendly and actually really fun," she said.

“It’s been wonderful, in terms of transition it has been a really big change for my family, so we’ve obviously moved house, we’ve bought a dog, I’ve got a new job my husband has got a new job – which wasn’t meant to happen but did.

"And my daughter has started a new school, so there’s been a lot of change for us as a family, but it’s been wonderful, the college has been so supportive.”

Epsom College was described as a "beacon of excellence" in last year's Independent School Of The Year Awards, when it also received a Student Well-being accolade.

It is attended by more than 850 boys and girls and was founded in 1853 to support poor members of the medical profession.

The following decade the school was opened up to non-medical families.

The campus is close to Epsom Downs Racecourse, which is home to the annual Epsom Derby.

Updated: February 06, 2023, 2:37 PM