A NEW era is set to dawn for the highly-acclaimed Westholme School.

The independent school, which has around 900 pupils, is currently recruiting a new principal to take over the reins from current leader Lillian Croston, who has steered the Blackburn school for the last 25 years.

Mrs Croston will step down in August 2013, and the new head will assume the positon the following term.

The school, which costs parents around £8,000 per year, has a reputation for excellence, and a long-standing history of teaching girls from the age of two up to the age of 18.

This year it received a 100per cent A-Level pass rate, and a 92per cent pass rate for GCSE results.

In recent years, the school has expanded, and this September it welcomed its first intake of senior boys, following the opening of a boys’ infant and junior school in 2003.

The school has pledged to keep boys and girls on the site separate academically.

However, they will mix during some social and extra-curricular activities, such as trips and drama.

Westholme School placed an advertisement in a national newspaper, stating it was looking for a principal with ‘vision, bold ambition and collaborative approach’ to help shape the next generation for Westholme.

Mrs Croston said the school governors will make the decision on the new appointment, but said the new principal will have a strong senior team behind them.

Speaking about the future of independent schools during a time of recession, she said: “Westholme’s future is secure.

“Economic times are hard, but education is paramount, and parents know how important it is to give their children a excellent foundation for the future.

“Parents know that, and they will rein in their finances to make the necessary sacrifices for their children.”

Mrs Croston said she would be sorry to leave the school after 25 years’ service, but said: “I have to come to terms with my date of birth.

“I wish I was 10 years younger because I would carry on.

“It is a fantastic place to work, but I have to come to terms with reality.”