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Mansfield Woodhouse: UK’s youngest principal, 31, ‘feels ready’

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The 31-year-old Manor Academy teacher who will become the youngest large-scale secondary school principal in the UK from September insists her age will give her a distinct advantage.

Donna Trusler has been appointed to the top job at the Mansfield Woodhouse school on Park Hall Road after just nine years in the profession.

The former Djanogly City Academy, Greenwood Dale and Essa Academy sociology teacher insists she has ‘all the relevant experience’ and is ready to step up after two years as deputy head at Manor.

She will replace Jonathon Hickman, who is retiring after 15 years in the role, and is keen to embrace the latest technology, as well as demand the highest standards from students and teachers.

“I feel very proud and excited by my appointment,” said Mrs Trusler. “The curriculum now installed is called ‘stage not age’, meaning that age is irrelevant and it’s the stage you are at that matters - and that also applies to me.

“When I was first told of my appointment I was 30, but I was a stage where I felt ready.

“I have achieved a huge amount already in my career and I bring a fresh, innovative approach and an understanding of what our kids need.

“I understand the increasing importance of technology and that is reflected by the way I use an Ipad so much in my job, which wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago.

“I have an enthusiasm and passion to succeed.”

Manor underwent a latest Ofsted inspection last week with results due back shortly after the May half term.

The school will hope to improve on past results, which saw it placed in special measures after an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report in October 2011, which was followed by a ‘room for improvement’ rating in December 2012.

Mrs Trusler added: “I want this institution to be outstanding, not just in Ofsted terms, but in its relationship with the community and so the students half the ultimate experience here.

“I want an increased support for primary schools and for our post-16 provision.

“I’m confident our recent upward curve will continue. When I arrived at the school it was in special measures, but we have since had really positives Ofsted feedback where they have said we could be outstanding.

“We’re hugely optimistic we will get there and that our next set of Ofsted results will be another improvement.”

Mrs Trusler says the school is ‘unrecognisable’ from the one she first joined.

“We have a new curriculum offering a wide breadth of choice. We have new construction courses, a new hair salon in Mansfield Woodhouse and our own nursery, for example,” she said.

“For me, one of the key things is personalisation and, by doing that, you get more out of the students.”

Another area of change has been in a restructuring of staff, with Ofsted having previously raised concerns over the quality of teaching.

Mrs Trusler added: “There has been new recruitment and everyone has to be 100% subscribed to our vision.”

“There has also been a restructuring of the leadership team and a tracking system for both teachers and students that flags up issues, however minor, that can be dealt with straight away.”

Mrs Trusler also paid tribute to the efforts of Mr Hickman during his tenure at the helm.

“Jonathon is a very strong person who I consider a friend as well as a colleague,” she said.

“He has given me the benefit of his experience with regard to the local community and the history of the school, and been hugely supportive in the new agendas and changes I have introduced.

“We are the opposite in many ways, and that has been why this place has succeeded in recent times.”

 

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