Wrexham.com were able to exclusively interview new Ysgol Rhiwabon headteacher Alun Harding yesterday morning. Mr Harding is probably the only headteacher in Wales to have started his career out in Majorca! After teaching there for 2 years, he returned to this country to the significantly less exotic – but just as rewarding – setting of Wolverhampton, and later taught in Walsall before moving to Shropshire to take up the job of Head of English at the Grange School. During his 4 years at the Grange he and his team raised the percentage of students gaining a C or above at GCSE from 27% to 82%. Most recently, he has been Deputy Head at the Priory School in Shrewsbury for the last 8 years.
When asked what were the key strengths he’d seen of his new school in his first few weeks, Mr Harding replied, ”I’ve found the students to be very friendly and hard-working and the staff to be really committed and dedicated. When you walk around the school during the day as lessons are taking place, the focus is great! It’s also a school where the teachers and support staff know the students very well – whenever I’ve said to a member of staff ‘Tell me about so-and-so’ they’ve without exception been able to give me details about how they got on in school in previous years, successes they’ve had, and anything I need to be aware of.” He stated that he’d received a really warm welcome from everyone at the school.
Of course, everyone in education is continually facing challenges. We enquired as to what Mr Harding saw as the main ones for Ysgol Rhiwabon over the next few years. He said, “We’re facing the same kind of challenges as schools are nationally – focusing on literacy and numeracy to ensure that GCSE English and mathematics results are on target. Another key issue is finance, and it’s important that we manage to balance the innovation and development we’re looking for in education with financial pragmatism. We’re in a healthy financial position compared to many schools thanks to the hard work of the business manager and the staff, but these are tough economic times and it’s important to be able to balance everything.”
Finally, after being extremely impressed by the range of extra-curricular activities on offer at the school’s Open Evening last night, Wrexham.com asked Mr Harding how important these were to a school’s success. His instant reply was “Hugely!” Elaborating, he said “It’s really important that we develop the whole student and not just the academic part, giving them an opportunity to extend themselves. I played a huge amount of rugby when I was at school myself and it kept me and my friends out of trouble. As I said to parents last night, children who have a good work-life balance, whether that’s taking part in activities at school or at home, will be better students than if they’re just doing hours of homework.” He also expressed the staff’s pride in seeing students achieve success, which has recently included pupils being crowned champions in boxing and dance.
Wrexham.com would like to thank Mr Harding for being the first headteacher to grant them an interview and wish him the best of luck in his new job. If you’re a prospective parent who would like to find out more about the school then you can visit the website or contact them via telephone on 01978 822392.