We have put together a team of expert professionals in their fields to ensure the very best education for our students, and our track record proves their success.

John Wilson

Principal, BA (Hons), MA (Oxford), PGCE (Cambridge) 

John Wilson is the Principal  at Acorn House College. Prior to Acorn House, John was the Director of Studies at a prestigious Sixth Form College in Kensington, London. During his tenure,  he led the academic staff and oversaw unprecedented improvement and success in its A Level results, helped the school reach an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted evaluation for the first time ever in 2010, built pastoral programmes, and saw a doubling in student recruitment. 

John was educated at state schools and colleges in the North East of England before graduating from Oxford University with honours in Biological Sciences. John has spent a significant proportion of his career as an adviser to students in the UK and throughout the world on making the best possible university choice and the strongest possible application. Having attained a PGCE in secondary science from Cambridge University, he is also a qualified and experienced teacher of Biology and Science, specialising in Sixth Form education at A Level.


John is a lay member of the university admissions panel for medical school undergraduate entry at UCL and has also performed this role at Imperial College and Queen Mary University

John is supported in his role as the Principal by Tahira Nawaz, the Vice-Principal of the College.

Senior Leadership Team

Chaired by the Principal John Wilson and the Vice-Principal Tahira Nawaz, the SLT consists of the following members:

Dr Pantea Etessami


 Director of Studies for Sciences and Head of Biology, BSc, Msc, Msc, PhD 

Pantea studied at University College London for a BSc in Microbiology and went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry at Sussex University. Pantea was awarded a scholarship by the John Innes Foundation to study for her Doctorate in Molecular Biology. After completing a post-doctorate on virus research at Norwich Research Park, she went on to research and lecture at the Biochemistry Department of Imperial College London. Before embarking on a successful teaching career, Pantea did another MSc in Decision Analysis at LSE, which involved project work for a pharmaceutical company. Before teaching Biology at Acorn House College, she held various senior posts including Head of Science and Director of Medical Programme at some of the top Sixth Form Colleges in London. Pantea has organised Medic Conferences and advised students for entry into Medically-related subjects at university for 18 years.  

Akhil Merchant


Director of Studies for Humanities and Head of English, BA (Hons), MA (Oxford), PGCE (Cambridge) 

Akhil studied English Literature at Oxford University before training as a teacher at Cambridge. He subsequently taught abroad in Mumbai, specialising in drama examinations and then in university preparation for an international education consultancy. After gaining more experience as a private tutor, he taught English at the prestigious Latymer Upper School, where he remained for nine years. During this time he has mentored pupils for Oxbridge, edited the school magazine, and broadened students’ horizons by promoting extra-curricular English events. He has also supported the London Challenge, which assists GCSE students across London with intensive revision activities. 

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Rebecca Rudd

VP (Head of Middle School) and Head of Business, BA (Hons) Dip IDM 

Rebecca was educated at Leeds University and Kings College London, working as a marketing practitioner in business and industry for many years. This was for both for a leading London agency and also as a director of her own consultancy. Her own clients ranged from 11 Downing Street to British Airways. After 25 years in the industry, she decided to teach what she had learned and became Head of Business Studies at Acorn House College. She joined Acorn House in 2011 and combines two roles, as Head of Business Studies and Head of Middle School. Rebecca has promoted a principle that student academic success is helped by a strong college/home partnership and has been able to create solid relationships with parents at Acorn House. 

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