Academy school to get new head

New Ecclesbourne head teacher James McNamara
New Ecclesbourne head teacher James McNamara

a NEW headteacher will take over Ecclesbourne School in Duffield as it becomes an academy.

The school’s current deputy head James McNamara has been appointed and will replace the current head Lesley Underhill, who is retiring.

He will take over the role from Monday, May 1, which is the start of the school’s summer term.

The announcement comes not long after Ecclesbourne announced it was to change to academy status.

The school will convert as of Tuesday, March 1, despite objections from some staff, who went on strike over the move.

In the meantime, staff and students at the school are preparing to warmly welcome Mr McNamara to his new role in May.

He has worked there since 2003, having joined Ecclesbourne in the September of that year, before then becoming deputy head teacher and head of learning services in September 2008.

He said: “It is a privilege to be asked to lead such an outstanding school.

“Ecclesbourne is a special place because we always strive to be a successful and caring learning community where individuals are inspired to meet the challenges of the future.

“I look forward to working with our fantastic staff, students and parents to build on the progress made during the leadership of Lesley Underhill, who is leaving to enjoy her well-earned retirement.”

Keith Wharam, chairman of governors at the school, said: “The governors are delighted to have appointed James McNamara.

“I know that he will embrace the values and ethos of our outstanding school and bring strong vision and dedication to bear in taking the school forward.”

Mrs Underhill, who has been in charge throughout the academy process and the preceding teachers’ strike action last month, has led the school since September 2002.

Eighteen of the school’s 98 staff, who are members of the teaching union NASUWT, took strike action on Tuesday, January 11 and Thursday, January 13.

The NASUWT, which is the UK’s largest teachers’ union, has serious concerns about the school converting to an academy.

The school, which has 1,438 pupils, remained open on both walkout days and lessons were not affected.