A DARWEN school’s new headteacher has said she has landed her dream job running a ‘joyful’ school.

Deputy headteacher at St Barnabas' Primary School, Helen Thomas, is to take the reins when current head Alison Howarth steps down this summer.

Mrs Thomas said she was thrilled with the appointment at the Knowlesley Road school and was grateful for the mentorship of Mrs Howarth since joining the school last year.

The 52-year-old, originally from London, came to Lancashire while still a full-time mum because of her husband’s job.

With a large family of six sons, a step son and a stepdaughter she was one of the first teachers to train on the Open University’s PGCE course, aged 35.

This is her first headteacher’s post in 17 years’ teaching and will see her take on the role part time before September.

She said: “As soon as I walked into St Barnabas’ I knew it was where I wanted to be. The ethos here of good relationships and caring for each other is tangible.

“It is a really joyful and loving school and it is a very happy atmosphere to work in.”

She added: “I always thought I would never want to leave the classroom, but as my children have got older I have felt more of a pull towards leadership. I know there is a lot more you can do which affects the direction of the whole school.

Before coming to St Barnabas', Mrs Thomas worked at Goosnargh Oliversons in a variety of roles including acting headteacher. She will take over as headteacher in September, but is acting headteacher two days a week in the interim.

Mrs Howarth retires this summer after seven years at the Knowlesley Road school and plans to help out with the family business. Her husband owns Howarth’s Funeral Services in Bolton and she is a qualified funeral director.