A MUCH-LOVED headteacher is saying goodbye to the school that she has turned into one of the best in the country and retiring at the end of term.
Di Stendall is leaving Selston Arts & Community College at Christmas after 12 years as head at the school.
She said that from the moment she walked in for the interview she felt the school was a ‘very special’ place.
“It is very friendly and happy but a small school so I thought I would leave after about six years, but I just didn’t want to leave,” she said.
Mrs Stendall (61) started her career at Hillocks Secondary School in Sutton in 1972 and though she taught English and PE, she worked as a special needs co-ordinator at several secondary schools in the Mansfield and Ashfield area.
She was a deputy head at a Chesterfield school before moving to what was then called the Matthew Holland School.
Being in a semi-rural area, Mrs Stendall said that the appeal of the school was its important role in the community and the friendly atmosphere.
She said: “There’s always been a fantastic team effort from the staff.
“Governors, support staff and teachers work very well together. It’s like a family rather than anything else.”
During her headship, Mrs Stendall closed the school’s sixth form. which she felt was too small to offer students exactly what they needed, and she oversaw the change to an Arts College.
“That really has put us on the map,” she said. “The arts and drama department is absolutely superb and that’s helped our work in the community.”
However, it is perhaps the school’s vastly improved exam performance under her leadership that Mrs Stendall will be most remembered for.
When she arrived, only 32 per cent of students were achieving five A*-C GCSE grades, but that is now up to an impressive 93 per cent - 59 per cent including English and maths.
These results put Selston in the top 16 per cent of schools nationally for its value added score.
Mrs Stendall has many plans for her retirement but said the thing she will miss about her job most is the students.
She added: “They are just incredible young adults and are a pleasure to know.”
Betty Dixon, chair of governors, said: “She’s been a fantastic, forward-thinking head. She’s been very caring of students and staff and we are going to miss her.”