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Superhead to run infants and juniors as partnership schools

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Move is not a formal merger says new executive head of Thatcham schools

TWO Thatcham schools are to be jointly run by one superhead.

Parsons Down Infant and Parsons Down Junior schools have created a partnership that will see them both managed by an executive headteacher, Petrina Winsor (pictured, centre), who is currently head of the juniors.

Mrs Winsor has stressed, however, that the move is not a merger and they will not become one primary school.

After Janice Schofield retired as headteacher of the infant school in Paynesdown Road in July last year, an acting headteacher, David Jackson, was appointed in September.

However, following interviews, the governing body decided that none of the candidates were strong enough to take the school forward and so approached the junior school about forming a partnership.

Mrs Winsor said that the partnership was the first of its kind in West Berkshire.

There are several schools in the area that are already run by executive headteachers, including Kennet School, Thatcham, and Trinity School, Newbury, and The Downs School, Compton, and Compton Primary School.

However, this is the first primary and infant school pairing in the area to be managed this way.

Mrs Winsor said that the idea had been discussed last year, but neither of the schools had been ready to go into partnership.

She said: “This exciting decision means that, although the two separate schools have not formally merged, there will be increasingly rich opportunities for even closer collaboration and more sharing of best practice.

“This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when neighbouring schools think outside

the box, and I'm really looking forward to helping children and staff in both schools to realise their full potential.

“Having discussed it with parents, they were suggesting that this was the way forward.”

Both the schools were inspected simultaneously by Ofsted in 2010 and were given a good rating.

Mrs Winsor added: “What we are looking at is moving both schools forward in terms of becoming outstanding.

The expertise we have will bring a new lease of life.”

West Berkshire Council spokesman Phil Spray said: “The governors of both schools are fully behind this approach and their sole concern is doing what is best for the children.

“This is very much a partnership arrangement and the distinctive ethos and character of both schools will be maintained.”

Mrs Winsor will take up her new position on Friday, July 1.

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