Headteacher to retire from Priory School on a high

Roger Mackenzie, headteacher at Priory School, with Antony Baxter, senior adviser for the East of England at the Education Funding Agency

Roger Mackenzie, headteacher at Priory School, with Antony Baxter, senior adviser for the East of England at the Education Funding Agency

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A headteacher of a Bury St Edmunds special school is to retire on a high after overseeing plans to launch a long awaited sixth form and receiving top marks from Ofsted.

Roger Mackenzie, 63, will depart Priory School next month and has laid the foundations for post 16 provision for those with increasingly complex learning difficulties.

It follows the opening of a new building with two classrooms and a social area which was made possible through a £250,000 grant from the Education Funding Agency.

Meanwhile, the school has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted under the watchdog’s tougher framework.

Mr Mackenzie said the school has wanted to open a sixth form for many years to ‘help children who need longer to mature and develop the skills to be successful in life’.

The sixth form is due to start in September with eight pupils and two extra staff initially.

It will offer functional maths and English, ICT and a range of vocational subjects.

Mr Mackenzie said: “Hopefully they can then go onto college, work or it at least makes them as independent as possible in the world beyond Priory.”

On the Ofsted grading, he said: “We got the result I think pupils, parents and staff deserve.”

It ends his 21 year career at Priory on a high and he feels it’s the right time to step down.

He explained: “There’s only ever been three heads before me and they all left on the grounds of ill health. I thought I don’t want to do that. I wanted to make sure I was leaving the school in a good position.”

His successor is Laurence Chapman, deputy head of the Ashley School, which is an ‘outstanding’ residential special school in Lowestoft.

On his time at the school, Mr Mackenzie said: “I’m pleased for the children. I think they’re getting a better deal all the time. What I’ve come across a lot more recently is how much parents appreciate what a kind of gift it is for children to come to here.”