Following on from our interview with Ysgol Rhiwabon’s Alun Harding last week, Wrexham.com were also able to talk to the area’s other new secondary headteacher, Martin Hulland of Ysgol Clywedog.
Despite Mr Hulland having been in the job less than a month, there is no doubting his ambitions for the school – he told us that he wanted Clywedog to be “the highest-achieving school in the Wrexham area” and is “100% confident that we can achieve that.” Following a successful Open Evening for prospective pupils and parents on Wednesday, he was keen to point out what he sees as the school’s biggest current strengths. “We’re a caring and inclusive school. We have good relationships at all levels – including with parents – and a strong pastoral system. Because the school’s not too big, we get to know the students here well.”
He also sang the praises of the school’s extra-curricular activities and said that he thought the school was particularly strong in creative areas – and having come from a school which was awarded the coveted Artsmark Gold, he’s clearly in a good position to judge. Describing the activities taking place outside of lessons as being “massively important” he spoke of his pride in joining one of the few local schools to put on regular school productions, whilst praising the music department and also talking about how fortunate the school was to have great sporting facilities and the benefits of a ‘5×60’ officer based on site.
Of course, he was also keen to talk about the more academic side of things. Ysgol Clywedog has a history of some children doing very well – Mr Hulland informs us that 4 ex-pupils at the school are either at Oxbridge at the moment or about to start – and he sees one of the key challenges the school faces this year to be to improve the overall standard of the “inconsistent GCSE results over the past few years” to make sure that “every single student achieves their full potential.” He also told us that he was committed to modernising Key Stage 4 to help students to do this, while stressing that he didn’t want the school to turn into an exam factory. “I’ve joined this school from a very well-achieving school,” he stated, “I know what high standards are.”
Mr Hulland describes himself as “a career teacher” who’s risen through the ranks in various schools in his native Yorkshire, starting as a history teacher and becoming Head of History, then Head of Humanities, and most recently Deputy Head in a school in Guiseley where he enjoyed five and a half years before deciding to face a new challenge at Clywedog. While the current financial issues facing all schools add their own issues to everything else a headteacher usually faces, he seems undaunted by the job. “These are tough times economically for all schools, so it’s going to be important that we use good practice, share resources, and reach out to the local community to work closely with them. I want to put Clywedog at the heart of the local community.”
After only three and a half weeks at the school, it’s clear that Mr Hulland is settling in well. He’s keen to acknowledge the “many fabulous role models” in the school, speaking not just of staff but also applying that description to the Year 11 prefects. While gaining more consistent exam results may be his biggest immediate challenge, he ended by saying that he also thought it was important to help students develop “the ‘soft skills’ that can give them the edge in the current economic climate,” praising the creativity and teamwork shown by his students and showing a real commitment to continuing to develop those characteristics.
Wrexham.com would like to thank Mr Hulland for taking time out of a busy school day to speak to us 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 phone the school on 01978 346 800.