All-action principal looks to improve Sidmouth College

The new all-action principal at Sidmouth College has laid his cards on the table and set out his vision for the school.

Kenny Duncan assumes Jeremy Roberts’ mantle and a success that saw the school improve from satisfactory to good in its Ofsted report in just three years.

“The government said satisfactory wasn’t satisfactory, but for me good isn’t good enough. It’s up to me to take us from good to outstanding,” he said.

Mr Duncan is no stranger to challenges – he is an all-windsurfing, diving, mountain biking teacher, who has worked at six schools and had a promotion each time.

When the principal brought in the trials bikers to mark the opening of the new cycle lane on Monday, he was trying to create a buzz and inspire the students to push themselves.

“Having a hobby is not necessarily academic, it may not give them a GCSE, but it gives them a really broad, balanced experience and prepares them for life as an adult,” he said.

Mr Duncan owes his success to a proven determination, but also his openness and approachability. After just two weeks, he’s taken assemblies with all the students and introduced himself and his family.

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“They need to see me as an adult, as someone with a life outside school, and as a human being, but in school it’s important to see me as a teacher. They should see me teach – someone at the top of my profession – not just as someone that steps in when things aren’t going well.”

The Lanarkshire-born teacher left Scotland as demand was greater south of the border, and took his first post at a school in the small town of Thornbury in Gloucestershire.

It was working in an establishment so key to the society that brought Mr Duncan to the town.

“Sidmouth College should be at the heart of the community but we don’t promote ourselves enough. We have a lot to celebrate and we haven’t always done that in the past.”

He is keen to reach out to the primary schools and outside of Sidmouth to grow the college’s population.

“It’s important to me to influence people to say, why send our kids somewhere else when they could come here?” he said.

Mr Duncan is eager to leave a legacy as strong as Mr Roberts’, and believes he has the team to do so.