Faith leaves legacy of inclusive education at The King’s School

Faith Jarrett will stand down as head of The King's School at the end of this term

Faith Jarrett will stand down as head of The King's School at the end of this term - Credit: Archant

Headteacher says students are her proudest achievement as she prepares to leave Ottery St Mary academy

An inspirational and much-loved champion of comprehensive education is standing down after more than 12 years at the helm of The King’s School.

Headteacher Faith Jarrett leaves a legacy of academic success and outstanding Ofsted results that have seen the academy become one of the top-performing schools in Devon – but says her proudest achievement is the well-rounded students who leave.

In her final term at King’s, Miss Jarrett speaks out about her firm belief in inclusive education, criticism of league tables, the importance of people over exams and why this is the right time to leave the school.

She said: “I totally believe in comprehensive education – every child has the right to the best possible education. I do not like selection in any way whatsoever. We are totally inclusive here and that is something we are proud of.

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“We are not an exam factory; we get the exam results from working with the whole child. We aim to have really happy and well-rounded young people. If a child leaves without a huge amount of A-stars, but is a brilliant human being then we have done our jobs.

“The league tables do not tell you anything about a school. Some schools are in completely different circumstances from us. We have got superb primary schools, we have amazing support from parents and that is invaluable.”

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The passionate advocate of ‘education for all’ grew up in a working class neighbourhood in Bristol and attended a tough inner city comprehensive school, before going to university. She later achieved a post graduate at Exeter University and masters degree at York.

She said: “I was lucky to have parents who value education and they said the only way out is education.”

Appointed in 2004, Miss Jarrett revealed she never meant to stay so long at King’s, but found it hard to leave.

Following last year’s ‘superb’ exam results and with staff morale high, she believes it is a good time to stand down and let her successor start new projects.

Under her leadership, The King’s School converted to academy status in 2011, something the head says has allowed for greater autonomy on how funding is spent.

A winner of the South West Secondary School Headteacher of the Year award in 2013, she has been described by colleagues as ‘inspirational’, ‘dedicated’ and ‘hardworking’.

The keen gardener is not quite ready to stand back from education altogether and will go on to do consultancy work with schools in Devon and Somerset.

In a career spanning 35 years, Miss Jarrett says she has enjoyed ‘every part of it’.

Reflecting on her time at King’s, she added: “I think my proudest achievement is the young people who leave here. Not their exam results but the confident, articulate young people they become. Buildings are buildings, it’s the people that count and we have got great staff and really supportive parents. We have gone through some difficult times and some dark times and we also celebrated successes.”

Rob Gammon, a former deputy head at King’s and current headteacher of Bridgwater’s Robert Blake Science College, will succeed Miss Jarrett in September.

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