A NEW headteacher has taken over the reins of a Burghclere secondary school.
Benjamin Bond officially stepped into the role at The Clere School on January 3, taking over from Felicity Martin.
Acting headteacher Zayne Essop, who Mr Bond said had been “hugely helpful”, continues in his role as deputy headteacher
Previously head of school at The Wellington Academy, Tidworth – Wiltshire’s first academy status school – Mr Bond said he had found the Burghclere school’s pupils “phenomenal”.
He said: “They have thoroughly impressed me in the first week, with their appearance, willingness to learn and respect for each other – which is very strong.”
He found the Earlstone Common site had a “charm, serenity and tranquility” despite tired accommodation, which was built 50 years ago.
Former headteacher Mrs Martin led the school out of special measures following an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in 2011, to a ‘good’ marking two years later in 2013.
Mr Bond said that there had been a drop in pupil numbers following the inadequate rating five years ago, with a total of 462 enrolled compared to around 620 pupils in 2011.
The school has a wide catchment area, from surrounding villages including Ecchinswell, Kingsclere, Ashford Hill, Burghclere, East Woodhay, Woolton Hill, Vernham Deane and Hurstbourne Tarrant, with 200 of the pupils travelling in daily by bus.
Working closely with the nine school governors, headed by chairwoman Caroline Oppenheimer, Mr Bond leads a team of 26 full-time teachers and 35 other staff.
Mr Bond says he has high expectations of pupils’ academic outcomes, and he also aims to make it a ‘school of choice’ for parents.
Last Thursday, he visited an art class at Woolton Hill Junior School, involving 40 pupils and their parents, taken by the Burghclere school’s art and drama instructor, Arlene Smith,
He said: “I talked about my ambitions for the school.
“It was fantastic.
“The children were lovely and parents very open and receptive.
“I wanted to know what parents in this area view as a deciding factor when choosing a secondary school, and a safe environment where children do well was the answer.”
With history as his specialist subject, along with geography, religious education and philosophy, he will also take lessons, which he said was important in order to get to know pupils better.
He is married to Mary, a teacher in Titchfield, near Fareham.
The couple have two children – Lily, 12, and Solomon, 10 – and live in Southampton.
Despite work consuming “most of my waking hours”, the 42-year-old said he is a supporter of Bristol City Football Club and enjoys reading biographies and walking the family’s two West Highland white terriers.
For a gallery of Clere school photographs visit: