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Pupils help choose their new head teacher

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 11, 2014

10/02/14 Richard Wakefield school
Richard Wakefield primary school, Tutbury....

10/02/14 Richard Wakefield school Richard Wakefield primary school, Tutbury....

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WHEN a new head teacher arrives at a school it is normally the pupils who are nervous and keen to make a good impression, but it was the other way around at one school where it was the children who were in charge.

Simon Webster, who is to take over at Tutbury’s Richard Wakefield Primary School from September, was faced with the unusual prospect of being grilled by the pupils during his interview.

A group of Year 6 pupils from the school’s Pupil Leadership Team, which is made up of head boys, head girls and house captains, were tasked with coming up with a series of questions to be fired at the head-in-waiting.

They included asking him how he would help the school achieve a rating of ‘good’ by Ofsted and how he would tackle bad behaviour and disgruntled parents.

The unusual idea of allowing pupils to play a part in deciding on the next head was taken by the post’s current incumbent Saroj Bell, who is stepping down.

The process may conjure up images of the new head being asked to enter the room Apprentice-style by a group of stern-looking children sat behind a desk, but Mrs Bell said it was all about allowing the children to play a part in shaping the school’s future while encouraging them to become more responsible at the same time.

Mr Webster, who has 12 years’ experience as a head, apparently impressed his future pupils after being chosen as the next leader.

Mrs Bell said: “When I gave my notice in I wanted this group of children to help. I worked with them so they could develop the right questions for the future head teacher of this school.

“They put some tough questions together and, as a team of 12, asked them in front of a governor and a head teacher of another school.

“They did an amazing job and asked some great questions.”

Mrs Bell is to take early retirement, saying she had done all she could to improve the Burton Street school and that the “time was right for a new leader to take on the role”.

She said: “I am proud of all my staff and pupils who have embraced the ethos I leave behind. The life skills they have developed will enable the school to get a ‘good’ in its next Ofsted inspection.”

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