Head of School Profile: Chris Neal Vows to Continue Improvement at St Mary & All Saints
Starting in September, Chis will be stepping up to the role of Head of School at St Mary & All Saints Primary School. Following this announcement, we spoke to the school’s new head.
Having initially started a career in IT, Mr Neal started working as a teacher in South Reading, before working at a local prep school as Deputy and then Head Teacher. Seeking to move back into the state sector, Chris joined The White Horse Federation last September as Vice Principal at St Mary & All Saints.
To date, what have you been most proud of in terms of achievements to date?
Leading my previous school through the first lockdown and implementing a remote education solution that worked. I’m also very proud of obtaining a Masters degree, whilst working full time earlier in my career.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
In my time at the school so far, we have made some real improvements at the school, so my primary aim is to continue the school improvement journey; leading the development of teaching staff and improving the educational opportunities for our pupils.
What inspires you most about teaching?
The thing that inspires me most is the opportunity we have as teachers to be able to positively influence the lives of young people.
During your time at TWHF, how have you been supported from a personal and professional perspective?
Personally, I’ve been really impressed with how the organisation at TWHF take a genuine interest in your well-being, and understand the pressures associated within educational leadership. It’s been great to be a part of the vice principal community at the trust, allowing for reflection and collaboration.
From a professional development perspective, I was placed on the Aspire to headship course soon after starting with TWHF. As well as providing excellent CPD, this allowed me to build professional relationships with other leaders within the federation.
Given your time at the school in your old role, how will you build on this to ensure a smooth transition for staff, parents, and children?
It certainly helps that I've been at the school for a year, as I know the staff, pupils, parents, and governing body. From that point of view there is a clear continuation in addition to mutual trust and respect. That said, there is still work to be done in improving the school, we are still very much on a journey. Those who know me understand that all outcomes must have a beneficial impact on the teaching and learning of all children, and for those joining us, whether they are parents, or staff, I look forward to sharing this vision with them.
What can staff, parents, and children expect from the year ahead?
Withstanding a happy return to school without COVID restrictions, our staff, parents, and children can expect the following.
Staff: Clear leadership and guidance. I've a professional interest in staff development and I see middle leader's as instrumental in effective school improvement. Staff can expect more responsibility and more accountability, but with the support in place to ensure they succeed.
Parents: A continually improving school which provides their child with an excellent education. These are exciting times for SMAS as we are developing, and feedback from parents is essential. Parents can expect an open door policy, and I would always encourage parents and carers to speak with me.
And finally, most important of all, our children can expect teachers who genuinely care about them and create relevant, exciting, and challenging learning.
To round off the interview, what are you most looking forward to in your new role?
In my time at the school so far, we have made some real improvements, so my primary aim is to continue the school improvement journey; leading the development of teaching staff and improving the educational opportunities for our pupils.