Wellingtonian Felicity Lusk, 53, has been appointed head of the prestigious 753-year-old Abingdon School, in Oxfordshire — the first female to ever run a boys’ public boarding school. “I don’t know why they chose me,” she says, with a modesty that belies her appearance. No doubt her CV — 30-odd years in teaching, success as head at Oxford High School — had something to do with it. But let’s not ignore the obvious: no other head in the country dresses like Lusk. How can there be discipline problems when the head wears red patent leather high heels? Her future pupils may be making jokes about “Miss Lusk: coming to a private school near you”, but they are getting a head who means business. Despite her purple-painted nails and flashing jewellery, Lusk is practical rather than flirtatious. She talks in a brisk manner with just a twang of her native New Zealand to match the stuffed kiwi on her desk. “I’m a great believer in letting children try things out,” she says. “If it doesn’t work, let go. If a child hates piano, why do it? Don’t force a child to study medicine if the child wants to go to drama school. Ambition is the great motivator.” Lusk, who plays the organ, attended Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Karori then studied music at Victoria University, before becoming a music teacher. She moved to England in 1990. Lusk takes on the role in September next year at Abingdon, which puts a strong emphasis on sport and extracurricular activities.