Blog: My Last One as Principal

This is the last blog I will write as Principal.

For the last 18 months I have been working on developing an educational trust that will have eight schools within it by next term – all around the St Austell area. That work developing Peninsula Learning Trust has taken more and more of my time and I have realised that I cannot lead Penrice and a growing Trust at the same time.

This week the Governors and I have reached agreement that I should lead the Trust and that a new Principal be appointed at Penrice. I am pleased to announce that Richard Baker has been appointed as acting Principal with immediate effect pending the recruitment of a permanent Principal. Mr Baker has been leading at Penrice as a Deputy Principal for over eight years and has taken on more of my workload in this last term. He will be an outstanding acting Principal and I know the Academy is in safe hands. The Trust retains overall responsibility for standards and leadership of all eight schools and I will continue to be present in the school and making sure that it continues to develop and flourish. I will not be making day to day decisions however and will be sharing my time with the other schools.

It is the intention of the government that all schools become academies and preferably join multi academy trusts such as ours. There have been huge benefits already in the last year of working together, sharing best practice, making savings on a shared back office and in creating more challenge for school leaders. The Local Authority is losing most of its funding and powers and it is multi academy trusts that are picking up the workload. Stand-alone schools cannot manage the complexities of this task, which is why we are banding together. It is a new world for schools and we need to make sure it works for our children. My aim is to improve life chances and outcomes for the children living in this town and most of the town’s schools have already joined us.

After nearly 11 years as Principal of Penrice Academy it is going to be difficult to let go. I have loved working here and the students of this school have been the best I have worked with in over 30 years of teaching. This is a great school; I visit other secondary schools around the county and whilst I am always able to see things that I like, it is Penrice that offers the complete package. Our students achieve great things academically but also in terms of their social and cultural development through the wider opportunities the school can offer. They go on to achieve great things, some even come back to work as teachers with us; they all tell me that they enjoyed being at the school and benefitted from its ethos and the range of opportunities. Some even remind me that they were not the best behaved at the time but looking back on their experience realise that we cared for them, helped them and supported them. We have achieved much in the last decade; three outstanding Ofsteds, becoming one of the first teaching schools in the country and one of the largest school- based teacher training organisations. None of those things would have happened without the full support of students, parents and staff for the vision of Penrice – to make lives better.

Thank you for the support you have given the school and me over the last 10 years. This is not a farewell because I will still be here; not every day, not leading the school directly but still wanting to see what the school is doing and making sure it continues to flourish albeit from a distance. I hope that you will give Mr Baker the same support and confidence that you have given me.

It has been a privilege to work at this school for these past years and I shall miss being at the centre of it.

 David Parker