Yeoman Park Academy boss retires after 31 years’ service

Jane Cooper, the long-standing principal of Yeoman Park Academy.
Jane Cooper, the long-standing principal of Yeoman Park Academy.

The long-standing principal of one of the most respected schools for special-needs pupils in the Mansfield and Ashfield area is to retire.

A fond farewell is being said by Yeoman Park Academy, of Mansfield Woodhouse, to Jane Cooper after 31 years’ service.

During her time at the helm, Yeoman Park has developed into a caring, well-managed school that regularly earns ‘Outstanding’ ratings from Ofsted inspectors.

She said: “I have enjoyed working with the children and their families at the academy, having a positive impact on their lives and their learning.

“Being recognised by education professionals and colleagues for the work the team here at Yeoman Park do with our students is both a personal and professional highlight of my career.

“Specialist education is a field that needs to grow, something I feel passionately about.

“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to have an impact on special education in a wider context, working with colleagues across the country in what I believe is a growing sector.”

Yeoman Park, which is part of the Diverse Academies Learning Partnership, has about 85 youngsters, aged three to 19, on its books. All have severe, complex, profound or multiple learning difficulties.

Undeer Jane’s leadership, the school has prided itself on being not only a good place to learn but one where the pupils can develop self-esteem and reach high standards of achievement.

It particularly likes to open youngsters’ eyes to new opportunities, and works very closely with parents.

Jane first began teaching 37 years ago after gaining her qualifications at Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham.

Among an early tranche of people trained specifically in working with pupils with special educational needs and learning difficulties, she subsequently embarked on her first teaching role at Shepherd School (now Oak Field School and Sports College) in Nottingham, staying for seven years.

In 1987, Jane joined Yeoman Park with responsibility for leading the early-years team, moving up to become deputy head teacher in 1992.

After 12 years in this role, she became head of its sister school at Redgate Primary School in Mansfield. She then returned to Yeoman Park in 2015 as head of school and principal, overseeing the conversion to an academy in 2017.

Jane will be spending her retirement taking a well-earned rest over the festive period before a project to refurbish her house, spend time with her family and travel with her husband, who has also recently retired.

She added: “I will miss the academy, children and staff and I am sad to be leaving, but it is the right time.”

Mrs Cooper will be succeeded by Pauline Corfield, the new executive principal of the Yeoman Park and Redgate Primary Academies.