The new headteacher of Sheldon School in Chippenham was announced today, three months after current head Gerard MacMahon told pupils he was leaving.

After eight years at the Chippenham school, Mr MacMahon, 46, will take on a new role as headteacher 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 steer the school to become one of the best in the country, said: “I am really pleased to announce to parents and pupils that we have been able to make an outstanding appointment to replace me as Sheldon’s headteacher.

“Neil Spurdell 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.

"Mr Spurdell 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 has gained specialisms in sport and languages, become an academy 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 decision 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 at Sheldon,” 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. Personally, 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.”