Burnley headteacher in Greek odyssey

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

A BURNLEY headteacher is about to embark on his own Greek odyssey.

Stuart Smith, head of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, will move to Athens this summer to take up the role as head of St Catherine’s British School.

Mr Smith was considering a new role after 11 years teaching in the town, and the gods were smiling on him when the chance to take up a role in the sunny Greek capital came up.

But he will leave Burnley with many happy memories having played a pivotal role in the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which has revolutionised many Burnley schools.

He said: “To engage actively with colleagues and architects to put together the ideal learning environment was a really exciting challenge.

“I am leaving Thomas Whitham and Burnley with a heavy heart but excited about the new challenges ahead.

“After 11 happy years teaching in Burnley I felt I was ready for a new challenge, but there was no way I was going to leave what we have here for simply another headteacher post. It had to be something special.”

Mr Smith, who grew up in North Yorkshire, first took the role as head at Habergham High School in January 2002, after a period at Haslingden High School, then moved on to Thomas Whitham.

His wife Angela, a learning support mentor in Preston, will travel to Greece with Mr Smith, but their three children, Graeme, Niall and Christopher, will remain the UK.

Mr Smith said: “St Catherine’s is an age three to 19 school, and so I think my experience of working on the Burnley Campus, where we share the site with primary and nursery schools, has certainly helped me in some way to prepare for the job ahead.

"Learning the language will be a challenge although the school delivers the whole curriculum through the medium of English.”

Mr Smith, who will move to Greece over the summer holiday, said he sees a positive future for education in Burnley and Thomas Whitham in particular.

“BSF presented many challenges and there have been great difficulties along the way,” he said, “but we are now seeing improvements in student outcomes and a more positive outlook for the future.

“I know I will miss Burnley very much. The town and its people will always be close to my heart.”

His replacement has yet to be appointed.

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