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New John O'Gaunt School head is announced

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Sarah Brinkley to hang up the reins in the summer

A NEW headteacher has been appointed at John O’Gaunt School, Hungerford.

He is Alan Henderson, who is currently deputy headteacher at St Edmund’s School, Salisbury, and he takes up his post in September this year.

School governors said in a statement that Mr Henderson had been appointed “from a strong field of applications” and that they were confident that he would do an “outstanding job in building on the excellent work of Sarah Brinkley and her colleagues, in ensuring that the John O’Gaunt School community provides a most positive and rewarding education experience for all the students at the school”.

Mrs Brinkley, who will continue at the school until September, said that, while she was sad to be leaving, she was “thrilled that such an outstanding candidate” had been appointed as her replacement.

Mr Henderson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be taking over as headteacher at this wonderful school.

“I am excited by the challenges that lie ahead at John O’Gaunt and I am looking forward to working with the fantastic staff and dedicated governing body to help ensure the best possible outcomes for every young person at the school.

“I am also looking forward to getting to know the students, parents and community of Hungerford and working together to help achieve fantastic success in the future.”

Mrs Brinkley took over from Neil Spurdell in May 2012.

Mr Spurdell had begun the work of turning around an ailing school.

When he arrived in April 2009, it was the lowest performing secondary school in the district with just 26 per cent of its 15-year-old pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs – grades A* to C – including English and mathematics.

By June 2008, education chiefs had given a stark
ultimatum – improve or face closure.

Mr Spurdell took over, vowing to turn around the school’s fortunes. By 2010, a glowing Ofsted report proved he had done just that.

He said on leaving: “I feel extremely relaxed now, knowing that Sarah will be at John O’Gaunt with my colleagues continuing to take the school further forward and I hope she will be as happy here as I have been.”

Prior to her appointment Mrs Brinkley was deputy headteacher at John Mason School, Abingdon.

Ofsted had described her teaching as “outstanding” and her appointment at John O’Gaunt School was unanimously approved by governors.

Mrs Brinkley built on the work started by Mr Spurdell but her tenure was dogged by political controversies beyond her control.

By February 2014, she was forced to issue a statement clarifying her opposition to plans for an all-though ‘superschool’ on the premises.

She wrote: “Let me clear up the first myth – this was not my idea.

“A number of people believe I arrived and decided this was the right thing to do to a town. I didn’t.”

Meanwhile Ofsted inspections, while praising Mrs Brinkley’s inspirational leadership, continued to result in a ‘needs improvement’ rating.

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