‘Big shoes to fill’ says new school leader

A newly appointed principal says that he has “big shoes to fill” after he started work in charge of one of Mansfield’s best-performing schools.

Mark Cottingham has taken over the reins at Shirebrook Academy following the departure of previous principal Julie Bloor in July.

The school, in Common Lane, Shirebrook, teaches 778 pupils over Years 7-11 – the most it has ever taught – and is currently rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Mr Cottingham said: “The school’s reputation is at an all-time high and its success is down to the hard work and commitment of Julie and her staff over her past five years in charge, so it’s clear that I have some big shoes to fill.

“Achieving that kind of success is extremely difficult and it was also earned through Julie’s commitment to working in partnership with parents and local residents, which has established the academy as a community school in every sense of the word.

“That is what attracted me here. Pupils can only thrive when school and parents work together and our school has become somewhere the whole town is proud of.”

The academy is based in a new £27m building, which it shares with Stubbin Wood School. It also operates a sixth form in a separate facility and is a designated teaching school.

It is over-subscribed and earlier this summer, for what is believed to be the first time in the school’s history, had to organise an appeals committee for disappointed parents of youngsters who were not offered an Academy place.

Mr Cottingham’s last position was as head teacher of da Vinci Community School in Derby but he will travel to Shirebrook from his home in Sheffield, where he lives with his partner, Paula Kirby, an artist and part-time teacher.