6:00pm Friday 23rd March 2012
By Alex Winter
The new headteacher of Sheldon School in Chippenham was announced on Friday, three months after current headteacher Gerard MacMahon told pupils he was leaving.
After eight years at the Chippenham school, Mr MacMahon, 46, will take on a new role as head of Al Khor International School, in Qatar in September.
He will be replaced by Neil Spurdell, currently the head of John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford.
Mr MacMahon, who has helped the school to become one of the best in the country, said: “I am really pleased to announce that we have been able to make an outstanding appointment to replace me.
“Neil will begin his role in September, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some parents and pupils get the opportunity to meet or see him before then.
“He is currently headteacher of John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford, which has seen very rapid improvements under his inspiring leadership.
“I had the privilege of working with Neil when he was a head of mathematics and an assistant head in an outstanding school in Gloucestershire, so I know that we have been lucky enough to recruit a top quality head.”
Sheldon became an academy, has gained specialisms in sport and languages and was one of England’s first 100 Teaching Schools with Mr MacMahon at the helm.
In its last Ofsted inspection, it was judged to be outstanding in all 38 inspection categories, an achievement matched only by six comprehensive schools in 1,500 Ofsted inspections.
Mr MacMahon said the process of looking for a head had attracted strong candidates, with Mr Spurdell the unanimous choice of governors.
“Many secondary and primary schools have struggled to attract strong potential heads, so it is worth me putting on record the strength of the applicants we had,” he said.
“The governors interviewed five candidates – four were headteachers, four were in outstanding schools, one was a national leader of education and one was a local leader of education.
“Mr Spurdell was the unanimous choice of the governors.
“I am both pleased and relieved that I can head for Qatar safe in the knowledge that Sheldon will continue to be a happy, outstanding and improving school.”
Mr Spurdell, who has been the head of John O’Gaunt for three years, said: “I have to say, there are very few schools that would have tempted me away.
“Sheldon has a special ingredient, something extra. The last headteacher job at the school was advertised around eight years ago, and I thought that it may never come up again.”
Mr Spurdell, a father of four, is a maths teacher and says he hopes to continue teaching despite his new position.
“I think it’s important to cut it in the classroomn," he added.
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