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New Headteacher for East Hunsbury Primary School as tributes are paid to retiring Head after 21 years’ service

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“Be kind, work hard, believe” – that is the message to children at East Hunsbury Primary School from new Headteacher Kathryn Pennington, who has taken over from Rita Arundel following her retirement after 21 years in post.

Kathryn, who joined the school as Deputy Headteacher in June 2020 before assuming a dual role as Acting Headteacher alongside Rita from April 2021, began her tenure as East Hunsbury’s permanent Head last month. Having previously been Assistant Headteacher at Bridgewater Primary School in Northampton and PE Lead at Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary School in Towcester, Kathryn is a familiar face across the Northamptonshire education scene. Born and raised in the county, she gained a first-class BA (Hons) Primary Education degree at the University of Northampton, and also worked as a specialist literacy consultant supporting school leaders worldwide.

Kathryn Pennington, new Headteacher of East Hunsbury Primary School

“I am proud and privileged to be Headteacher of East Hunsbury Primary School,” Kathryn said. “I always wanted to be a teacher from a very young age, and as my career has developed I have always wanted to be a leader. My vision is for us to be a community-driven, family-focused school that delivers an ambitious, inclusive and enabling curriculum in which all children achieve exceptionally high standards from their given starting points. We want to be a school where everyone wants to be because they feel happy, represented, valued and prepared for every stage of their lives: the village school in a town that achieves the same as a private school. Children only get one chance at primary education, and it is our responsibility to make their education the best it can be.”

The 429-pupil school, which includes a 47-placed specialist unit for children with significant learning difficulties, is part of Northampton Primary Academy Trust – and both share a common vision of ‘Extraordinary Children doing Extraordinary Things’. “We are one school, mainstream primary and specialist unit aligned, a flagship school for our successful inclusive practice where children all learn from each other and a community in which diversity is embraced and celebrated,” Kathryn said. “With the uniqueness of our staff and quality of teaching, together we can be the greatest school. As Headteacher I will always act with all children at the centre of my decision-making.”

Kathryn also paid tribute to her predecessor and vowed to build on her legacy. “I get very emotional talking about Rita – we both share a love of East Hunsbury – and she believed in me, guided me, listened to me, has been a big support in the transition, and I am so grateful to her,” she said. “The foundations laid by Rita are really solid. She has, and always will be, at the heart of the school’s DNA. Under Rita’s leadership the school has offered a wealth of experiences which inspire the children – and we will strive to develop opportunities further across areas such as the arts and sports.”

At her final assembly, Rita – who has given 40 years’ service to education – was presented with a jug made emblazoned with children’s fingerprints and a quilt they had made. She has since donated some money for a reading chair in the school. “It has been an absolute privilege to lead such a vibrant school with such enthusiastic and engaging children, supported and challenged by caring, dedicated staff,” she said. “I have always tried my best to lead the school firmly and fairly, with compassion and rigor, ensuring that every individual is valued equally, feels included and encouraged to aspire to be the best they can be. In Kathryn, I am delighted to be placing the school in such skilful, ambitious, caring and enthusiastic hands. I look forward to watching the school continue to improve and excel – and I know that the school will continue to make memories for generations to come.”

Louise Whaites, Chair of Governors at East Hunsbury Primary School, said: “On behalf of the Governing Body, I would like to thank Rita for her long service to the school and wish her a happy and healthy retirement. We will always remember Rita’s dedication to East Hunsbury, and that the school was one of the most important things in her life. She was very passionate about the school’s development as part of the community, initially its establishment within a new community and then over the years responding to the needs of the changing community. It was also very important to her that we were positioned as one school – mainstream and specialist unit together – and Kathryn shares that.

“Looking forward, we are really excited about Kathryn’s plans for the school. She has some brilliant ideas to carry on Rita’s vision as a place in the community for everyone, not just the children, and is already re-building links externally that we were forced to put on hold due to the pandemic. Educationally her mission is research and evidence-based, everything focused on facts, and all with the objective of helping each individual child to fulfil their potential, giving them opportunities to thrive and do their best.”

Julia Kedwards, CEO of Northampton Primary Academy Trust, said: “Finding a replacement Head for East Hunsbury Primary following the retirement of experienced and skilled Headteacher, Rita Arundel, was no mean feat and we are thrilled to welcome Kathryn into our school Trust. Kathryn has significant education and leadership experience and is already building on the solid foundations left by Rita to take East Hunsbury forward into the future.”

Reception places at East Hunsbury Primary School are still available for September 2022. For more information, please contact the school office on 01604 677970 or [email protected].

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