Executive headteacher Michael Burns has welcomed the appointment of Stephanie Garthwaite as the new head of school at St Peter’s Catholic College in South Bank.

Mrs Garthwaite spoke of her plans to celebrate the unique heritage and take the school on a journey of continuous improvement.

She will take up her role in September, working alongside Mr Burns, the executive headteacher of St Peter’s and St Patrick’s Catholic College, Thornaby.

“As soon as you walk into St Peter’s you can’t help being aware of the school’s unique heritage,” said Mrs Garthwaite.

“I want to use that history to inspire our pupils. I’m looking forward to working with the community to celebrate our 80th anniversary in 2021, which is a significant milestone. Very few schools have a history as rich as St Peter’s and that’s very exciting.”

St Peter’s contribution to sport is a special source of pride. The school was the hub of the famous South Bank production line of footballers, including the game’s Golden Boy, Wilf Mannion.

Plans to celebrate its birthday include inviting former students who have forged successful careers to come back and talk to current pupils and a wall of fame featuring inspirational people from the South Bank and Grangetown area.

Stockton-born Mrs Garthwaite, who began her career as a PE teacher, has already started getting to know her new staff in a series of virtual meetings.

“I’ve had individual appointments with every teacher and member of support staff to ensure expert planning is in place ready for September.

“I want to reassure the whole school community that Mr Burns and I are here for the long haul.

“I have high expectations for all pupils and want them to achieve excellent outcomes. Additionally, my aim is to ensure all pupils receive broad and rich opportunities to fulfil their lives in modern Britain.

“I’m passionate about improving the life chances of young people and I know that education is the gateway for future success.

“We are embarking on a journey to make the school Outstanding, which is our ultimate aim and we will be relentless in our pursuit of this.

“As a Catholic school, Christ is at the heart of everything we do and while making academic progress is important, we want to take our pupils on a spiritual journey, educating the whole child.

St Peter's head of school Steph Garthwaite – Photo by Chris Booth

Mrs Garthwaite previously worked at North Shore Academy in Stockton and then as vice principal (teacher, learning and assessment) at St Aidan’s Academy in Darlington.

During her five years there, the school rose from being in Special Measures to being rated Good by Ofsted.

“We improved the quality of education, behaviour, pupil outcomes, the culture and ethos and community perceptions of St Aidan’s.

“We went from having 16 first choice places to 150 and became one of the schools of choice within the Darlington area.”

Mrs Garthwaite, whose most recent role was Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust’s learning lead, said she is excited about the trust’s ambitious plans to invest in the fabric of the school, which include external improvements, upgraded classrooms and a new entrance.

Mr Burns said: “It is crucial we build effective leadership across the school and the appointment of Mrs Garthwaite is a strong signal to our community. We are determined and able to appoint the highest calibre of leadership.

“I am fortunate enough to be executive headteacher in two of the longest surviving schools in Teesside. This rich heritage and tradition allows my pupils the opportunity to have a genuine sense of community and an appreciation of history which embeds a deep understanding that everyone can achieve and realise their ambitions like the generations that went before them.”

 

CEO of NPCAT Hugh Hegarty added: “The appointments being made right across our trust of 27 schools reflect unrelenting commitment to our pupils.

“We will begin our third year of operation in September with a team of quality leaders across our secondary schools,the appointment of Mrs Garthwaite further signifies why so many parents are choosing NPCAT schools, with our provision from two years old right up to our wonderful sixth form.”