PRIDE, ambition and the drive to succeed are just a few things that new Kingsdown School headteacher Emma Leigh-Bennett hopes to bring to the job.

The school in the heart of Stratton St Margaret opened its doors to students last Tuesday, marking a new chapter in its history not only with Emma’s arrival but also with Kingsdown joining the River Learning Trust.

Emma used to work at Churchfields Academy and took over as Kingsdown headteacher from Wendy Conaghan who retired before the summer holidays.

Speaking with real pride about her new role, Emma said she hopes that people look at Kingsdown with fresh eyes once her series of changes rollout.

“I think for me, I want to be a headteacher where I serve my local community and I feel very strongly about that,” she said. “Swindon is a community that, like all others, does need excellent schools to give children the best education.

“We have a lot of students who need the best possible start in life.

“We have a vision to make Kingsdown a school of excellence at the heart of the community and we will be the first school of choice for a lot of people here.”

By joining the River Learning Trust – a multi-academy trust where schools are able to share resources and expertise – it is hoped that Kingsdown will build on its Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement’.

One of the first things to change at the school is the introduction of a learning culture which can be put down to six key attributes including respect and responsibility, stretching and challenging and pride and ambition.

As well as taking a no-nonsense approach to disruptive behaviour, Emma wants to simplify other areas so that students know exactly what is expected of them.

She said: “Parents and pupils can expect three things. The first is that every adult in the school will have incredibly high expectations of the students, every adult in the school will be championing the potential of each student and that every adult will be working part of one team.

“By joining the RLT it means that we have access to first class education support and that will be invaluable.

“Within changes of the local authority, schools cannot survive as a solo entity and we are delighted to join the RLT.

“We are on a journey to radically improve results and my view has always been that we are partners with our students and so it is about getting them on side and getting them to understand what we are trying to do.

“Children understand rules but if they are complicated then they get broken and then the system breaks down. So for us going forward, it is about having a clear vision to become a school of excellence behind that we have high expectations.

“We want to work in partnership with our parents because we all want the same thing for their son or daughter to leave Kingsdown with pride and ambition and the best possible qualifications.”

Parents wishing to find out more about Kingsdown can go along to one of their open mornings on September 20 and 21 between 9am and 11am as well as October 4 and 5.

There will also be an open evening on September 27 at 6.30pm.