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New headteacher at Ilkley Grammar School

New IGS Head Teacher Carly Purnell

As students return to Ilkley Grammar School next week they will be welcomed by a new Head Teacher, Carly Purnell.

Having been appointed to the role earlier this year, Mrs Purnell succeeds Helen Williams who has successfully led the school, an outstanding academy and the founding school of Moorlands Learning Trust, since 2014.

Mrs Purnell is a very familiar face to students, staff and parents having been at Ilkley Grammar School for the last seven years as Deputy Headteacher. Since 2013, her key responsibilities have included student achievement and academic standards, quality assurance of teaching, self-evaluation and whole school curriculum and timetable. Recently, she also project managed a £4.7 million capital expansion project funded by BMDC which resulted in the building of a new 15 classroom teaching block and additional dining facilities, and co-led on the development of an on-site School Resource Provision for students with autism.

Prior to joining IGS, she was Assistant Principal at Hanson School and has almost twenty years of middle and senior leadership experience of working in large secondary schools in West Yorkshire and proven impact in schools in very different contexts. A history graduate from the University of Manchester, she is also a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) with particular expertise in curriculum, assessment and school improvement.

As the new academic year starts, she said: “I am very proud and excited to have been appointed as Headteacher of Ilkley Grammar School. It is a privilege and honour to be given the opportunity to lead such a fantastic school with such remarkable students, dedicated staff and loyal and supportive parents and carers. I have tremendous respect for the responsibility which accompanies the position, and will work tirelessly for the school and the community it serves.

“I want Ilkley Grammar School to continue to build on its many strengths to provide the very best learning opportunities, experiences and support so that all students, irrespective of their ability, circumstances or individual needs, can thrive and achieve their potential. Whilst academic achievement and student progress are at the heart of what we do, equally important to me is the well-being of all, alongside students’ personal development. I want students to leave with outstanding results of which they can be very proud, but also with values such as respect, tolerance and kindness which will empower them to make a positive difference through the lives they lead.”

As a parent of 4 children who are all very different – the eldest now a barrister having graduated from Oxford University and the youngest about to start year 8 – I believe that for education to be truly transformative, it must open hearts, doors and minds. Through inspirational teaching, a culture of high expectations and challenge for all, as well as positive encouragement and support, all students are capable of developing their talents and aspirations and achieving great things. It is our moral duty as teachers and leaders to support them to aim high so they achieve their personal best.”

Mrs Purnell’s appointment follows as Helen Williams moves to a full time CEO/Executive Headteacher role in order to develop Moorlands Learning Trust. Ms Williams will continue to work across both Ilkley Grammar School and The Skipton Academy (TSA) who joined the Trust in December last year. In a letter to IGS parents, Ms Williams said: “We recognise just how important it is to ensure that we do not lose any focus on continuing our improvements and successes at IGS whilst we develop our partnership with TSA. From September 2020 therefore, I will move into a full time Executive Headteacher / CEO role across both IGS and TSA, in order to be able to most effectively co-ordinate and support the strategy behind all of the Trust’s work.

“Following a rigorous recruitment process, I am delighted that the trustees and governors appointed Carly Purnell as IGS’s next Headteacher. I very much look forward to continuing working closely with her to ensure that the transition is a smooth one and that IGS continues to go from strength to strength. I have absolutely no doubt that this will be the case!”


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