New acting head at St Peter’s

Posted on: 12 September 2016

Teaching is in the blood of the new acting head of St Peter’s in Exeter.

Both Phil Randall’s mother and father were teachers and he met his wife while they were young teachers at the same school in Devon.

Mr Randall joined St Peter’s two years ago as part of outgoing head Rachel Hutchinson’s new team.

They have been responsible for what inspectors from the school standards agency, Ofsted, called a transformation.

Last year’s Ofsted inspection judged St Peter’s as a good school with many outstanding qualities and they praised its overall effectiveness, the quality of teaching and learning and the leadership and management.

Last year’s GCSE results were the school’s best ever, placing St Peter’s in the top three of Devon’s 37 State secondary schools with students’ progress in English and maths from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 at 17 per cent better than the national average.

This year the school equalled its best-ever results with 79 per cent of students gaining five or more GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths, despite the national figures showing the biggest ever year-on-year decline.

Now Mrs Hutchinson has moved to take over as principal of the much bigger Ivybridge Community College and Mr Randall has taken over as acting head for at least two terms.

Mr Randall said the two of them had worked closely together on improving the education that St Peter’s provides its 1,200 pupils and he would not be introducing any dramatic changes.

“Ofsted said we had the capacity to improve still further and I fully intend to continue our direction of travel,” he said.

“I was brought in to improve teaching and learning and our Ofsted report confirmed that has been achieved but there is still much more we can do,” said Mr Randall.

“I particularly want to provide more leadership opportunities for both our staff and students.

“We are developing our student voice and they’re looking at the learning environment and how to improve it.

“That’s involved them in drawing up plans and getting costings for the improvements they want to make, such as better seating.

“I also want to work with parents on improving our communications and how we report to them and involve them in their children’s education.

“What we do in the classroom is always our priority so everything we do is backed up by the best educational research.

“We will continue to invest in staff training so our teachers and teaching assistants feel supported and challenged.

Mr Randall said this year’s GCSE results had shown that students’ progress was the best ever compared to their prior attainment but he said St Peter’s would continue to focus on developing the whole child with an array of enhancement opportunities to supplement its academic excellence.

He added: “As far as the results are concerned, I am delighted that we have been able to support students of all abilities in providing strong foundations for their future.

“Our relentless focus on teaching and learning and building the resilience of our students continues to improve their experiences and outcomes.”

Mr Randall’s early plans did not involve teaching.

He trained to be an actor and took a degree in performing arts at Leicester University.

But he says he quickly realised he didn’t want to spend most of his life out of work and he took a job in business in London.

“It didn’t take long before it hit me that teaching was what I wanted to do because I wanted a purpose in life,” he says.

His acting training was perfect preparation to work in theatre in education and he volunteered in primary and secondary schools before qualifying as a teaching assistant and then taking a teaching qualification at St Luke’s in Exeter under the legendary Ted Wragg and Deborah Myhill, who now heads Exeter University’s School of Education.

He started his career in the classroom as an English teacher at South Dartmoor School under its then head, Ray Tarleton, and was on the staff with another newly qualified teacher, Rachel Hutchinson.

He also met his wife, got married and had two children, a boy and a girl, who are currently at Exeter College and St Peter’s.

“I rose up the ranks pretty quickly at South Dartmoor under Ray Tarleton,” he says.

“He was great. If he thought you could do it then you were old enough to do it and that’s what we have here too.

“We aim to promote talent from within but we’re also an attractive school for a lot of teachers. There were 63 applicants for our last Head of Year post.”

Posted in: Education