New Colne Valley High School principal Christian Wilcocks says behaviour, attendance and achievement are key parts of plan

Christian Wilcocks aims to drive up standards and complete school turnaround - and 'jeggings' will be banned

Christian Wilcocks, new principal of Colne Valley High School, Linthwaite.

The incoming head of a troubled high school has vowed to be tough but fair as he bids to complete the school’s turnaround.

Christian Wilcocks will become principal at Colne Valley High School in Linthwaite from September.

Mr Wilcocks, 40, says that behaviour, attendance and student achievement are the cornerstones of his drive to make Colne Valley not only the biggest secondary school in the district, but also the best.

And he will be taking a tough stance against the small minority of pupils who are constantly disruptive or absent.

His current job is deputy head teacher at Todmorden High School, which was within a “hair’s breadth” of being placed in special measures when he arrived.

Now it has outstanding pupil behaviour and the best academic results in the school’s history.

Mr Wilcocks has also been acting head teacher and has achieved success working within an academy trust framework, as the school is part of the Leeds-based GORSE Academies Trust.

Some Huddersfield parents may remember Mr Wilcocks in his previous role as assistant head at Almondbury High School where he had responsibility for special educational needs, behaviour and attendance. He moved on two and a half years ago.

Colne Valley High School, Huddersfield
Colne Valley High School, Huddersfield
 

In a letter to Colne Valley parents Mr Wilcocks said: “Every student at Colne Valley High School has the right to learn in every lesson, every day.

“If I demand the very best from teachers and staff, then I need to ensure that poor behaviour in classrooms or around the building does not present a barrier to their effort to teach.

“In order to provide your son/daughter with an excellent education, he/she will need to be taught within a positive environment, where teachers are free to teach without disruption, enabling your child to make the best possible progress within every lesson, every day.”

The school uniform is not changing but from September the dress code will be tightened, so leggings, denim-style “jeggings”, and canvas shoes will no longer be allowed. The school will assist any parent who approaches them for help.

In an interview with the Examiner, Mr Wilcocks said he did not regard himself as a disciplinarian, but as someone who was concerned with children’s welfare, and who would maintain the standards which he expected as a parent. He has two children, Lottie, 13, who has special needs, and Noel, eight.

He said: “I have expectations for my child about being safe and cared for. I want every single member of staff and every student to achieve and thrive, and not to be satisfied with second best.”

Executive principal Lorraine Barker said that there had been “a substantial field for the post of principal, including several head teachers” and added: “This is a sought-after school.

Lorraine Barker, exec principal of Colne Valley High School, Linthwaite.
Lorraine Barker, exec principal of Colne Valley High School, Linthwaite.
 

“Christian will bring rigour and is very pro-children. He will also bring leadership, aspiration and high standards, with better communication with parents and the feeder schools, which Colne Valley so badly needs.”

She added that the appointment of 15 new permanent members of staff by the new academic year would bring greater consistency for students, many of whom have been taught at least some of the time by supply teachers.

On Monday and Tuesday Mr Wilcocks visited eight valley primary schools.

Colne Valley was placed in special measures after a damning Ofsted report in December 2012.

The Government has insisted that all schools in special measures convert to academy status.

The conversion, however, has been delayed for technical reasons but is expected to be completed by September.

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