Meet Downend School's new head
I have come here from The Castle School in Thornbury, another school in the CSET trust.
Tell us about yourself
I have come here from The Castle School in Thornbury, another school in the CSET trust. I worked there for 19 years, most recently as deputy head. I was an English teacher and then an advanced skills teacher, working with many schools in South Gloucestershire, before becoming assistant and then deputy.
What are your first impressions of Downend School?
I was fortunate to be able to spend time here in the summer term, working with the outgoing head Mark Fuller to ensure a seamless transition. I was immediately struck by what a happy school it was, and that impression has deepened. I am impressed by the dedication of the staff, the excellent pastoral care and - most of all - by the students. They are keen, ready to learn and proud of their school.
What are your ambitions for the school?
Downend had its best ever GCSE results this year, with 63 per cent of students achieving a grade 4 or above in the new English and maths exams. I have a clear idea of how to build on the successes, and of what needs to improve to meet the challenges ahead. I want to continue to raise students’ aspirations and confidence, and ensure everyone is supported and challenged so they can flourish.
What are the challenges you face?
Like all schools, we have to cope with a new curriculum, a new grading system and immense pressure on funding. It is unprecedented, and means we must be as creative as possible, and look at everything we do and question its impact and effectiveness. Being part of the trust is a big help, as we can work collaboratively and support one another.
What's the plan for your first 100 days?
We have a school improvement plan for the whole year, with a clear vision and priorities for all staff to follow. It is constantly under review to ensure we are effective and efficient.